shoal of fish
If, like me, you’ve been glued to the television watching the London Olympics for a week, you will have heard an intriguing-sounding word used by the commentators: repêchage. It’s a word borrowed from French which refers to a last-chance race in which the runners-up in qualifying heats face each other to gain qualification for the finals. It dates back to 1925-30 and comes from repêcher, to fish out again (re + pêcher, to fish).
Major Periods of Borrowing in the History of English
World loanword database
Loanword classification tree
Fishes by Richard Ling

By |2016-10-18T15:48:36+00:00August 5th, 2012|Words|3 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. Luciana E. Lovatto August 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Céline, in Spanish we have the word “repechaje”, which is being used these days mainly in TV programs. And it is used to refer to the last chance given to a team or person to continue in a competition. Surely, it comes from repêchage.
    Thank you for this explanation, I love etymology!

  2. Michael August 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    I first came across the word repêchage when I was a schoolboy in the fifties and obsessed by bicycle racing. The Tour de France was my main interest but the riders in those days rode 6 day races on the tracks of Europe and New York in the winter and the repêchage was a second chance for the slower sprinters.

  3. Cathy Lara December 10, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Hi Céline, I always love your photos! And thanks for the explanation of this word, Cathy

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