May 24, 2007


The cast of "Cheers," a TV
show, which, like a glass of
Sam's best champaigne,
bubbled with bonhomie.

n. [bon·hom·mie] or bänm
Good-natured easy friendliness : warm open geniality : atmosphere of good cheer
• "Christmas bonhomie"
• "the bonhomie of a fraternity reunion"
• "an undying bonhomie radiated from her" -- Jean Stafford


French: bonhomie from bonhomme "good-natured man" (from bon good + homme man) + -ie. —Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam- Webster, 2002.

—————————————————————————————————————————————Bonhomie IN USE

In the following article, a northern journalist returns to New Orleans following
Hurricane Katrina to find "still palpable" the "Cajun bonhomie that [once] lit up Crescent City."
My most memorable evening was my last, when a group gathered at Galatoire's. It was a Saturday night, and ambling down a sparsely populated Bourbon Street to the 101-year-old restaurant did not bode well; on my last visit, the street was a shoulder-to-shoulder honky-tonk. But my spirits brightened considerably once we stepped inside. The place was packed with what were obviously regulars, who turned the long, mirror-lined dining room into an infectiously entertaining party. One of its ringleaders was our waiter, Gilbert "Louis" LaFleur. I can recall almost nothing about the food that evening, save the considerable sting of the two Sazeracs that I nursed over several hours. Instead, what's embedded in my memory are LaFleur's indomitable high spirits, a Cajun bonhomie that lit up Crescent City restaurants for more than 40 years, most of them at Galatoire's. His booming voice, as it led rousing rounds of "Happy Birthday," is my favorite mental postcard of the trip. LaFleur personified the soul of a city that was down but clearly not out, and I was grateful to him for capping my visit on a much-needed high note. Three days later, my host sent an e-mail: The day after our dinner, LaFleur suffered a heart attack and died--New Orleans finds its recipe for recovery. Despite Hurricane Katrina's swath of destruction, the spirit of bonhomie in the city's food community is still palpable.—Author: Nelson, Rick. | From: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) | Date: August 24, 2006.


From The Chicago Tribune

The White House and congressional leadership met this morning to try and bridge the partisan gulf between them on Iraq War funding and it was soon clear that all the bipartisan bonhomie on display yesterday on the immigration reform had vanished today.

Republicans and Democrats each, not surprisingly, blamed the other side for the continued stalemate.

Audrey Tautou as Amélie

One film critic speaks for many in his response to the 2001 film Amélie:
"With its generous bonhomie, unexpected twists and ceaseless invention, Amélie is, in my humble opinion, not only the most accomplished film of the year but the best of the new millennium."—James Cameron-Wilson
The Bonhomie

"Jacques Bonbomme"

Circa 1356, French nobility begin using the term "Jacques Bonbomme" (James Goodman) as an ironically down-turned epithet for the rebellious peasantry.

May 21, 1358, hundred peasants of Beauvaisis tackle the castles of their area, raping and killing the inhabitants, burning the residences. Their revolt extends very quickly to the farming community from the Paris basin.

It was the largest of the "jacqueries" attacks in the French campaigns.

These revolts are thus named according to the name of Jacques or Jacques Bonhomme given to the peasants

Here is how The Century Dictionary accounts the term "Jacques Bonhomme":

(bo-nom'), Jacques. [F., 'James
Goodman.'] A contemptuous sobriquet which the nobility in France gave to the people, par- ticularly the peasants.
See Jacqlerie [immediately below].

Jacquerie (zhak-e-ree’) n. French., A revolution the effects of which were to be felt at every fireside in France.
• "a new Jacquerie, in which the victory was to remain with Jacques Bonhomme." –Macaulay, Mirabeau

The French name Jacques, being extremely com
mon, came to be used as a general term for a man, particularly a young man, of common or menial condition. — The Century Dictionary (

bon·ho·mous adj. [bän häm' uhs]

Full of bonhomie : warmly genial


Bonhomous IN USE

From The Washington Post

George Tenet: a "bonhomous boss-pleaser"

"There was hope [among New York Dems] that Bob Woodward's book 'Plan of Attack' would provide the unassailable smoking gun -- a fake-WMD skeleton in Scooter Libby's closet, or an up-close moron moment with the president vivid enough to power negative reinforcement forever on late-night TV. But Woodward mainly gives flesh and blood to all the shadows of the first term: How Secretary of State Colin Powell was cheesed off with the rush to war but went along with it anyway. How Vice President Cheney was caught in the psychodrama of unfinished business in Iraq from the first Gulf War. How CIA Director George Tenet is the kind of chunky, bonhomous boss-pleaser who shouts "It's a slam dunk!" in a meeting with the president when he knows it's what he wants to hear. A dinner party Woodward memorably describes at Cheney's house with all the neo-con cronies dumping on Powell feels like a trolls' convention in the Hall of the Mountain King, but then nobody ever thought a night at Dick and Lynne's place would be a fizzy edition of 'Dinner for Five'."
—Date: April 22, 2004 | Author: Tina Brown"Bucks Without the Buzz: Democrats' Sedate Party" From: The Washington Post

mm]George Tenet

Bon Ami

Q. Do bonhomie and the brand name "Bon Ami" mean the same thing?

A. No. In standard American English, "bonhomie" signifies "of cheerful spirit," while "Bon Ami" signfies a well-known brandname for a powdered household cleaner sold by the Faultless Starch/Bon Ami Company of Kansas City, Missouri. Happily, both words carry happy overtones. Also, bonhomie is pronouned [ bänm·hom·mie ], whereas the English brand name Bon Ami is pronounced with a stress on the second syllable: [bon AH'·me].

With a cautionary note that we begin to border on the hazards of fine-pointed confusions when we realize that

  1. In "bonhomie," English has a French-borrowed synonym meaning "good cheer":
  2. In "bonhomous," English has a French-borrowed adjective meaning "full of bonhomie";
  3. English has no French-borrowed word for "good fellow."
  4. In "Bon Ami," English has a brand name for a powdered household cleaner.
  5. In "Bon Ami," French has a word that means "good friend."
  6. And while we are looking at the OED page displaying bonhomie, we might add—to no good purpose other than fun—that a word we have not thus far talked about, bonham, a word that might appear to be a French borrowing, is, in fact, an Irish borrowing that means "sucking-pig." (Who know? Some day you may have need for the word to impress a friend on a visit to an animal farm or for a six-letter word during a round of Scrabble.—B.J.)



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