Word of the day – milieu

Milieu is used both in English and French. In the former it refers only to a social environment, while in the latter it has many others meanings. These include:

milieu = middle / centre
couper qch en son milieu – to cut sth down the middle
je prends celui du milieu – I’ll take the one in the middle
tener le milieu de la chaussée – to keep to the middle of the road

au milieu de = in the middle of, amid, among, in the midst of, amidst
elle est au milieu de ce groupe – she’s in the middle of that group
au beau milieu (de) / en plein milieu (de) – right in the middle (0f), in the very middle (of)
– au milieu de la nuit – in the middle of the night

milieu = middle course / way
– un juste milieu – a happy medium
– le juste milieu – the happy medium, the golden mean
tenir le milieu – to steer a middle course

milieu = environment, set, circle, background
le milieu familial – the familiy circle
je ne me sent pas dans mon milieu – I don’t feel out of place, I don’t feel at home
s’adapter à un nouveau milieu – to adapt to a new environment

le milieu – the underworld

So this is a useful word in French that has lost almost all of it’s original meanings in English. This is quite a common occurence when words are borrowed from one language to another.