Standing stone

Standing stone: a large block of stone set upright; a menhir, monolith.
Menhir is actually the French word for "standing stone". It comes from Breton men (stone) and hir (long). This is an example of a standing stone circle, taken yesterday in Avebury.
The most famous example of standing stones in the UK is Stonehenge, a stone’s throw away (ahem), in the Salisbury plain.
French and English have a different word for stones which form a table (although it is more commonly used in French), namely "dolmen". This comes from the Breton taol, tol (table) and men (stone). It is not very surprising that these Breton words were borrowed in French and English; Britanny is the region of France where one may find well-preserved stone circles, in Carnac for example.

By | 2016-10-18T15:50:27+00:00 May 30th, 2006|Words|2 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Xavier Kreiss May 30, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    This is indeed fascinating.
    By the way: a (VERY) large boulder, found at the bottom of the sea, was placed in a standing position at the top of a hill on Lancresse common in Guernsey a few years ago to mark the millennium.
    It may be the only example of a modern-day menhir? Although – as far as I know, it isn’t used for any ritual purposes. But I’m sure Obélix would have liked it.
    Many islanders don’t like it, but I think it looks great, especially now it’s acquired a sort of “patina” from being left out to weather the elements.
    See it here
    A prehistoric one already existed – it’s called the Longue pierre. In other words, the exact translation of the meaning of “menhir” given by Céline.
    Here it is:

  2. Provi June 4, 2006 at 6:11 am

    Very interesting 🙂 Taol/Tol sounds indeed like Table in French somehow doesn’t it?

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