MooT Question Icon
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, what word is the French equivalent of the English word jingoism?

Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.

A picture of a moot game

The critically-acclaimed board game MooT
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
To join our mailing list and get
free brain-twisting MooT questions sent to you irregularly,
enter your email address and then press submit.

E-Mail address:

Back to home page

Answer: chauvinism

The British call "exaggerated and bellicose patriotism" jingoism, the French call it chauvinism, and Canadians call it hockey fever.


When we were kids in scouts, we would chant a marching "song" that went"Left, left, left, my wife with 49 kids in a starving condition and thought it was right. Right, right from the country from where I came, hay foot, straw foot, feet, by jingo, left, left, left my wife with 49 kids in a starving condition.... I have no idea where it comes from, probably some military, sometime, I'm guessing British, since it works in English, and pre-HMV, as it would have developed when guys had to walk where they were going, to pass time and keep up their spirits. Now they get rides more.

I love your e-mails, and have sent them to intelligent friends over the years who have also loved them.
liz.nash at

Dear MooT Guy, Thanks for your message. I heard about the game from a friend, who spoke of it in the most superlative terms. I haven't actually played it yet--there will be a MooT party on December 30.

A question for you: Is MooT a noun or a verb in this context? Or deliberately ambiguous? Regards, Tom

[Mootguy: It's a proper noun because it's the name of a game. Please check out the Online Dictionary of Language Terminology for all your lanugage needs (]

I doubt if that's quite what the OED says, as our word chauvinism comes from the French 'chauvinisme' (with an -e). It is derived from the name of Nicolas Chauvin, an ultra-patriotic soldier of the Napoleonic era.

In modern usage, both in English and French, the word has partly lost its bellicose sense, and mostly refers to people and institutions who consider their nation, region, sex (e.g. male chauvinism) etc. to be paramount.

Jingoism, in contrast, is still restricted to bellicose patriotism. It is derived from a popular Victorian song that went, I think: 'We don't want to fight, but by jingo! if we do...' Jingo is probably a euphemism for Jesus. So they are not really 'equivalents', at least today.

I haven't heard of 'hockey fever' before, but wonder if it has the sense of either 'jingoism' or 'chauvinism'. It sounds more like exaggerate support for one's favourite sporting team, originally (ice) hockey. Perhaps one of your Canadian readers could confirm if it has extended its meaning beyond the field of sport?

[Mootguy: Thanks for the info. Here a direct quote of the OED's first definition of the word chauvinsm: "Exaggerated patriotism of a bellicose sort; blind enthusiasm for national glory or military ascendancy; the French quality which finds its parallel in British ‘Jingoism’." PS: The hockey fever part was supposed to be a joke.]
villacooper at

Dear Mootguy,

A couple of points here. You mention that this is the first OED definition, but it is not the commonest sense today, which I assume are included in other OED definitions. You don't hear neo-con warmongers like Dick Cheney being called chauvinists, for example, and chauvinism has shrunk somewhat to refer almost exclusively to non-military matters, such as foreign policy, culture, race, sex...whereas jingoism seems to have taken over the military sense. Also, a parallel is not necessarily an equivalent.

Since my earlier comment I've done some more research into both words. The words of the song I mentioned were written by George William Hunt (b. 1829). It goes like this: 'We don't want to fight, but by jingo if we do, We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too.' The song was written in support of British belligerence towards Russia, and became popular in 1878. Plus ca change! Another interesting theory is that the mild oath 'By jingo!' might not after all be a corruption of Jesus, as most authorities believe. Chambers 7th edition says it was first used as a 'conjuror's summoning call' and may be derived from the Basque 'Jinkoa', meaning God!

I've also discovered that most of your clients are Canadians, so I suppose you are too. Could you therefore add some comments on 'hockey fever', please? I write from the UK and the term is not known on this side of the Atlantic, where hockey usually means field hockey! As your website is aimed at expanding people's word power and knowledge of etymology, I feel your comments on jingoism and chauvinism could be usefully expanded.

As a keen etymologist, working in a dozen languages, I admire your efforts in this field, which is not yet an independent academic discipline. Even in British universities, etymology is considered merely a branch of philology or comparative philology and not a subject in its own right. Popular etymology and urban myths are also worthy of closer study. I'd like to see all that change, and your project is most helpful.

Roger Cooper BA FCIL
villacooper at

Sorry, but this explanation doesn't work for me. Chauvinism can have connotations other than belligerence. OED is DOA on this one.
gregfelton at

The French named it after M. Chauvin, an eggregious practitioner of phoney, chest-thumping patriotism ("the last refuge of the scoundrel"). Perhaps we're ready to coin the American version of chauvinism - Bushism? Cheneyism?
hjongerden at

That is a great answer! Thank you and Merry Christmas
hibernice at

Where do we get "chauvinism"? French, chauvinisme, after Nicolas Chauvin, a legendary French soldier famous for his devotion to Napoleon. And, "jingoism"? Origin: orig. conjurer's call hey jingo appear! come forth! (opposed to hey presto hasten away!), taken into general use in the phrase 'by Jingo', euphemism for 'by God'; chauvinistic sense from by Jingo in political song supporting use of British forces against Russia in 1878 And, the hockey thing? Well, it IS Canada afterall...what else could there be??? Go, Stars!
losson1 at

Why do canadians called jingoism a hockey fever?
r_vilvestre at

Copyright 1998-2009 Blair Arts Ltd. All rights reserved.