noun, plural cartes blanches [kahrts -blanch, blahnch; French kart -blahnsh]. /ˈkɑrts ˈblæntʃ, ˈblɑntʃ; French kart ˈblɑ̃ʃ/.
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WATCH NOW: What Is The Meaning Of "Carte Blanche"?
Carte blanche entered the English language as a French loan word in the mid-17th century, when card games were all the rage, of course. But what does it mean now?
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Origin of carte blanche
historical usage of carte blanche
By the 18th century, the meaning had expanded to include a blank piece of paper upon which someone signed his or her name, trusting a second party to come up with the stipulations of a deal. This idea of signing a yet unwritten contract and handing over authority to the other party led us to the sense most familiar to speakers of modern-day English. Nowadays, if someone has been given carte blanche, it means that the person is free to do or say whatever he or she pleases.
Note that it is a mistake to say “a carte blanche” unless you are talking about a piquet hand or a blank, signed contract. When used in the sense of giving someone free rein, you say the person has been given “carte blanche,” and not “a carte blanche.”
On the other hand, blank check, a term with very similar meanings, is always used with “a” or some other determiner. That term underwent the same progression as carte blanche from its literal meaning to a figurative one (as in Congress gave the president a blank check of unconditional support ). Unlike carte blanche, however, the literal meaning has not fallen out of use. We may rarely play piquet today, but we still occasionally write checks.
popular references for carte blanche
— Carte Blanche: A painting by Belgian surrealist René Magritte. It depicts a horse and rider, apparently walking through a forest, though closer inspection shows the forest visible through the horse and rider. The painting is meant as a meditation on art and its relationship to reality.
— Carte Blanche: An album released by American hip-hop artist Phat Kat in the late 2000s.
— Carte Blanche: The 37th novel in the James Bond franchise, written by Jeffery Deaver.
Quotations related to carte blanche
- "I understand that you give me carte blanche to act for you, provided only that I get back the gems, and that you would place no limit on the sum I may draw. "-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
- "[T]his deal gave the developer carte blanche to wield power in a self-interested way. "-Steve France Dusty Doctrines ABA Journal (May 2001)
- "It’s the kind of success which pretty much gives them carte blanche in terms of what they want to do next, although they’ve always done their own thing. "-Adam Lowes ‘Hornet’ Brings in the Green While True Grit Hangs in There HeyUGuys (January 18, 2011)
Words nearby carte blanche
Example sentences from the Web for carte blanche
Every year in training camp Reid gives him carte blanche to fire away and not worry about interceptions, because “he’s got to figure out what he can and can’t get away with,” Reid said back in August.Patrick Mahomes has unmatched physical gifts. His intellect might be what sets him apart.|Sally Jenkins|February 5, 2021|Washington Post
The current system gives companies like AbbVie, Pfizer, Biogen, and all the titans of the industry nearly carte blanche on how to price their medicines, no matter how long ago they were created.It’s the New Year, and pharma companies are already hiking prices for popular drugs|Sy Mukherjee|January 4, 2021|Fortune
Blanche was a fragile white moth beating against the unbreakable sides of a 1000 watt bulb.Elia Kazan to Tennessee Williams: You Gotta Suffer to Sing the Blues|Elia Kazan|May 1, 2014|DAILY BEAST
First we try Northmaen Blanche, a citrusy wheat beer brewed in Normandy.Look Out! There’s a Craft-Beer Revolution Taking Over France|Jeff Campagna|December 2, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Both Fran Blanche and Rob Barnett talk about the amount of extra work these internet endeavors require.
After laying down some inspiration, Sophia had one last question: “Blanche, will you marry me?”
So, that's why the cable companies don't want you to buy a la carte HBO Go, but why is that HBO's problem?Why Are Cable Companies Forcing People to Turn to Piracy?|Megan McArdle|November 28, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Blanche stood an instant looking into the lighted room and hesitating—flushed a little, smiling, extremely pretty.
Blanche sat there with her little excited, yet innocent—too innocent—stare; her eyes followed Mrs. Vivian's.
There was a pause, during which Blanche went through a little mute exhibition of amazement and pleasure.
Without waiting for the answer to this last question, Blanche threw herself upon Mrs. Vivian.
At the sound of Blanche's name he jumped up and took his usual tone; he knew all about his wife, and needed no information.
British Dictionary definitions for carte blanche
noun plural cartes blanches (ˈkɑːts ˈblɑːntʃ, French kart blɑ̃ʃ)
Word Origin for carte blanche
Cultural definitions for carte blanche
To be given “carte blanche” is to receive the power and authority to do as one wishes: “The prime minister herself did not take any action on the refugee issue but gave her minister of the interior carte blanche to deal with the situation.” Carte blanche is French for “blank card,” meaning one that can be filled in as a person wishes.