Control in a snap

We can just as easily say in one jiffy (in one word) thatin one knack, since the two expressions mean exactly the same thing. A turn of the hand or a turn of the hand is the time it takes to turn the hand, therefore a fraction of a second.

We use these two expressions as synonyms for “very quickly, very quickly, in an instant”.

Now, you may be wondering which of the two is older?

It seems to be jiffythe first recension of which dates back to 1566 according to Little Robert. Knack would therefore be a distortion, appearing around a century later.

However, I was surprised to find that the Robert dictionary places in a jiffy in the literary language and that the French Academy considers it to be outdated, whereas this formulation is quite common among us.

Note, this would not be the first time that a word has changed register in its journey between France and Quebec, the two varieties of French having evolved differently over 250 years. You can therefore use it as you wish since a majority of speakers here understand it.

Knack has a second meaning which is almost never used here. The expression also means “trick of skill performed with the hand”. We can similarly express that a person has a good knack to mean that they are skillful, dexterous, that they have know-how.

Out of…control?

As for your second question, the answer is similar: we can just as easily say out of control that out of control. There are just as many forms with the preposition of (out of danger, out of combat, out of the question, overpriced) than without (out of season, out of series, out of context, out marriage).

Not so long ago, I would have answered neither: when I was studying at university, we were told to avoid using the word as much as possible control and the verb control when they had a meaning equivalent to that of mastery.

Do you see, in French, the word control originally had a definition closer to monitoring and of verification, such as identity checks, spending controls, parental controls, firearm controls, air traffic controls, doping controls.

Otherwise, the word control and the verb control were considered to be modeled on their English equivalent control. Phrases like under control, birth control Or reasons beyond our control were therefore criticized.

There are still traces of these criticisms, for example in the Grand Dictionnaire Terminologique, which suggests talking about an uncontrolled fire, but they are increasingly rare.


Are you bored of the column Eh! of Protect yourself? Here are his most recent translation gems. As usual, the English text is followed by the correct translation, then the incorrect translation.

Old fashioned kettle cooked (cooked in the old-fashioned way in a pot): old-fashioned cooked in a kettle.

Water-based urethane (water-based urethane): water-based urethane.

Do not dry clean (do not dry clean): dry clean.

Beer can chicken rub (beer can cooked chicken seasoning): beer can chicken rub.

Defrost samosas before baking and turning half way (defrost the samosas before cooking and turn them halfway through cooking): defrost the samosa before cooking and halfway through turnover.

Questions or comments? [email protected].


I'm William from America, I'm a food lover, often discovering and making new recipes. I started my blog to share my love for food with others. My blog is filled with delicious recipes, cooking tips, and reviews about restaurants and products. I'm also an advocate for healthy eating and strive to create recipes that are easy to make and use fresh ingredients. Many of my recipes contain vegetables or grains as the main ingredients, with a few indulgences thrown in for good measure. I often experiment with new ingredients, adding international flavors and finding ways to make dishes healthier without compromising on flavour. I'm passionate about creating simple yet delicious recipes that are fun to make and can easily be replicated at home. I also love sharing my experiences eating out with others so they can get the best out of their dining experiences. In addition to cooking and writing, I'm also an avid traveler, often visiting new places to discover local delicacies and explore different flavors. I'm always looking for a new challenge – whether it's trying an exotic food or creating a new recipe using unusual ingredients. My blog is a reflection of my passion for food and I'm always looking for new ways to share it with the world. Join me on my culinary journey and let's explore delicious foods together!

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