Antidote 10 User Guide

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User Guide / The French Module / Dictionaries



Antidote’s French dictionaries contain a wealth of information on all aspects of the French language: the meaning of words and idioms, pronunciation, spelling variants, synonyms, conjugations, semantic fields, combinations, etymologies, and more.

Accessing the French dictionaries

Antidote opens its French dictionaries automatically when you type a non-ambiguous French word in the headword field. You can also open them yourself from any of the English dictionaries by clicking on the French button located above the list of dictionaries. Depending on how you have chosen to configure the button, it will either take you from the English entry to that of its French translation, or will perform a search in the French dictionaries for words that are graphically similar to the English headword. The settings for the button are described in the Interface Settings section and are accessible from the General panel of the Interface settings or the shortcut Alt + click. If the button is configured to take you to a translation and multiple translations are possible, a chevron will appear on the right of the French button. Clicking on that chevron will give you a choice of which entry to show. The default entry is the one with the highest frequency.

Instant search menu

The instant search menu appears as soon as you start entering letters in the headword zone and proposes, as you continue typing, the most relevant search results. For many expressions, Antidote’s dictionaries also contain results in the other language; to see them, just select Show French results in the English dictionaries or Show English results in the French dictionaries, which appear at the bottom of the menu.

Homographs bar

When the headword has homographs, like the word force, which is a noun, a verb, and a plural determiner in French, they are displayed in the homographs bar located above the header for all dictionaries. For some dictionary searches, results exist in both languages; the options n additional results in French… and n additional results in English… allow you to view the results in the other language.

Definitions dictionary (Définitions)

This dictionary provides definitions for 128,000 French words, in addition to 55,000 expressions, idioms and proverbs. The structure of the French definitions is similar to that found in the English dictionary: the entries are divided into meanings, sub-meanings and semantic divisions, with examples provided in grey characters. There are, however, some notable differences.

  • All definitions in the French dictionary begin with a capital letter.
  • The examples are separated by a period and begin with a capital letter, regardless of whether they are grammatically complete sentences.
  • Domain labels (e.g. ÉCONOMIE, DROIT, CINÉMA, MUSIQUE) appear in black and usage labels appear in blue (e.g. SOUTENU, ARGOT, FAMILIER, VIEILLI) or in red (e.g. OFFENSANT, DIFFAMATOIRE, PÉJORATIF). The usage labels indicating the region or regions where a particular word meaning is used (e.g. QUÉBEC, SUISSE, ANTILLES, AFRIQUE, BELGIQUE) are also displayed in blue. As in the English version, a click on a usage label opens the article in the Antidote guides where it is described in full.

In many cases, especially when the word being looked up is common, the meanings and sub-meanings are accompanied by example expressions. These are categorized and presented as follows:

  • Figurative expressions or idioms (locutions in French), in which the meaning of the headword has a certain metaphorical or metonymic sense that is different from its usual sense (e.g. in the expression ouvrir le bal, which means “to be the first to do something”, the French noun bal no longer has its primary meaning). The symbol appears to the right of certain expressions, which allows you to access additional information on that expression: an indication of its frequency, or links to external search tools which can be activated in the settings.
  • Proverbs, i.e. sayings that are often short and purport to state a general truth or provide a piece of advice, e.g. Qui ne risque rien n’a rien, which is equivalent to the English Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Non-standard constructions, usually consisting of literal translations from English or other improper uses. These constructions are shown in red to highlight the fact that they are incorrect.


Translations are a major new feature in Antidote 10 and its French module. Every definition of every word and expression is now accompanied by a translation, both from French to English and from English to French. These translations are displayed using the Hide/Show translations command located in the top right corner of the definitions area. When shown, the translations appear in italic grey text underneath each definition and are introduced with the symbol ⇄.

For example, in the French adjective entry titulaire, each of the three definitions has its own translation. In the context of religion (third definition) the English translation is titular. Simply clicking on this translation will cause a tooltip to appear showing the religion-specific English definitions of titular. This allows users to compare the French definitions with the English ones. Double clicking on the translation will open the English entry for the word in question.

Expressions and proverbs are also translated. As such, in the Locutions section of the entry titulaire, the expression évêque titulaire is accompanied by the translation titular bishop.

Formulations — Some translations are preceded by formulations in the source language, shown in roman type and followed by a colon. These formulations show the headword as part of a particular expression or construction. For example, one of the translations of the French entry embarcation is shown as follows: embarcation de sauvetage : lifeboat. This shows users the full expression corresponding to one of the principal translations of the noun embarcation.

Usage contexts — Some translations are preceded by an indication of the context to which they apply, shown between parentheses and in roman type. For example, the first definition of the French word abattre can have a number of appropriate English translations depending on the context. Accordingly, many of the translations include contexts such as the following: (arbre) fell.

Usage labels — Usage labels accompany translations whenever appropriate. For example, the informal French verb faucher includes the translations snatch and nab, preceded by an INFORMAL label. In general, Antidote provides translations of the corresponding register in the source language.

Connected translations Certain lists of translations are followed by an ellipsis enclosed in square brackets, indicating that connected translations are available. They can be revealed by clicking on the ellipses and are shown in a lighter grey font. These translations are generally less relevant than the principal translations for a number of reasons, such as relative rarity, a difference in register, or a more restricted meaning. Still, they may be useful in certain contexts. For example, the first definition of the French verb dépasser includes a number of connected translations, some of which are informal or specific to a particular region. To hide the list of connected translations, simply click on the ellipsis again.

Details panel

Under Précisions in the Details panel (right-hand column), you will find the following:

  • Etymological notes on the headword and the symbol which provides a link to the historical dictionary where you can find more information on the history of the headword
  • A scale indicating the relative frequency of the word in French
  • Inflection information: If the word being looked up has more than one form (noun, adjective, pronoun, etc.). Antidote shows its inflections for the masculine, feminine, singular and plural. Inflections for nouns begin with the determiner un, une or des, so that they can be interpreted intuitively. For verbs, Antidote shows the infinitive form (e.g. avoir), as well as the tense, mood and person if a conjugated form is looked up (e.g. avais)
  • The phonetic transcription of the headword and its inflected forms, if applicable. There is also an option that allows you to switch between two different phonetic transcriptions, the International Phonetic Alphabet (Show IPA) and the French phonetic alphabet (Show FPA)
  • Alternative spellings of the word

If the looked-up word is subject to the 1990 French spelling rectifications, Antidote displays a note with the rectified spelling (e.g. flute, rectified spelling of flûte). In the case of a word with alternate spellings, one of which is recommended by the rectifications, a blue dagger symbol (†) highlights the recommended spelling (e.g. baseball, recommended without a hyphen).

Under the Difficultés heading, you will find the following:

  • An explanation of any linguistic difficulties (grammar, spelling, syntax or other) related to the use of the headword

Under the Compléments heading, you will find the following:

  • Predefined search criteria (definitions containing the headword, English words translated as the headword, rhymes and anagrams)
  • More search tools, e.g. the Wikipedia encyclopedia and the Google search engine, which can be activated in the settings. Other online linguistic resources can be added manually

Dictionary of synonyms (Synonymes)

Antidote’s dictionary of French synonyms is a treasure trove of information, offering hundreds of thousands of synonyms that express myriad shades of meaning and semantic correspondences. In it, you will find the following:

  • The headword’s main meanings, each preceded by a green hide/show triangle ( or )
  • Further information on meaning or use, preceded by a bold green bullet ()
  • The labels, in small caps, which indicate the context in which the synonyms they introduce may be employed. These are divided into domain labels in black (e.g. ALIMENTATION, CHASSE, INFORMATIQUE, MÉDECINE, etc.), and usage labels in blue (e.g.: SOUTENU, FAMILIER, ARGOT, VIEILLI, etc.) or in red (e.g. OFFENSANT, PÉJORATIF, etc.). The usage labels indicating the region or regions where a synonym is used (e.g. BELGIQUE, QUÉBEC, FRANCE, etc.) are also displayed in blue. Clicking on a usage label opens the article in the Antidote guides where it is described in full.
  • Hyperonyms and hyponyms, identified by the headings PLUS GÉNÉRIQUE (more general), PLUS SPÉCIFIQUE (more specific). The lists of hyperonyms and hyponyms are preceded by a solid green square (◼︎). A small blue circle with a number indicates either that a hyponym has hyponyms of its own, or that a hyperonym has hyperonyms of its own. Clicking on that circle will reveal these secondary hyponyms (shown with a right-pointing arrow) or hyperonyms (shown with a left-pointing arrow) in a list. The same process can be repeated should any of the newly revealed words have their own hyponyms or hyperonyms. A list can be hidden again by clicking on its arrow.
  • The contexts, in grey and in parentheses, which specify the context of use of the synonym (e.g. “louve (femelle)” as a synonym of the word loup).

Sorting the synonyms

According to your requirements, you can choose between four ways of sorting the synonyms: alphabetically, by relevance, by frequency or by length (number of letters). Sorting options are accessible from the menu bar underneath the main synonyms panel.


The same menu bar also contains two filters that cause only certain synonyms, hyponyms and hyperonyms to be shown.

The first filter is based on the words’ semantic or expressive strength (strong, weak or neutral). By default it shows everything.

The second filter allows only words without usage or domain labels to be shown. By default it shows everything.

Dictionary of antonyms (Antonymes)

An antonym is a word with a meaning which is opposed to that of another word. Antidote contains over 100,000 antonyms, which can be extremely useful in finding a term whose opposite one knows better. If the word in question is polysemous (such as remercier, which can mean either “to thank” or “to fire”), Antidote classifies the antonyms according to the sense in question, making it easier to select the proper term. You can click on the show/hide triangles (for each list or that of the whole entry) to switch between an exhaustive view and a summary of the antonym lists.

Dictionary of combinations (Cooccurrences)

The dictionary of combinations (called “cooccurrences” in French) provides all the most significant combinations of the headword with other words, grouped by syntactic context, in addition to the strength of each combination and, if applicable, the various meanings of the headword. For the noun feu (“fire”), for example, you will find combinations like jouer avec le feu, combattre le feu avec le feu, feu de camp, feu purificateur, feu et sang, feu sacré, le feu s’éteint, péter le feu and hundreds of others. The manner in which the French combinations are displayed is similar to that found in the English dictionary of combinations, except for the following:

  • the syntactical contexts are adapted to French grammar and include classes that don’t appear in the English dictionary, e.g. avec nom complément (“with noun complement”), avec adjectif descriptif (“with descriptive adjective”), en apposition (“in apposition”).
  • the List of sources, a link that lists all the French texts used to build up the dictionary of combinations.


If a combination belongs to an informal register, a usage label (FAMILIER or TRÈS FAMILIER) is shown to its right. If a usage label applies to all combinations in a given sense, it is not repeated next to each combination; instead, it is shown next to the heading that indicates the sense.


When the French module is installed, each of the combinations shown in both the English and the French dictionaries includes a translation into the other language. To show or hide the Translation column, click the ⇄ button located in the title bar. For example, the French word eau , the combination eau potable includes the translation drinking water. If a combination includes a second translation, it is separated from the first by a middle dot. For example, for the combination eaux usées the Translation column shows the following: “wastewater • sewage”.

Examples and definitions — Whenever the translation for a combination is itself included in the other language’s combinations dictionary, as is the case with drinking water, a > symbol appears to its right. Clicking on one of these translations will cause any examples or definitions associated with it to display in the right-hand panel. The buttons at the bottom of this panel are for switching between examples and definitions. When the translation is not a combination in the other language, no > sign is present and clicking on the translation will cause definitions of its constituent words to display in the right-hand panel. For example, water for washing is the translation of the French combination eau pour laver. Since water for washing does not feature in Antidote’s English combinations, clicking on it causes definitions for the words water and washing to display on the right.

Search — When the Translations column is shown, the search box located at the bottom of the main combinations panel searches in both the combinations and their translations.

Sorting — It is possible to sort the translations in alphabetical order by clicking on the title of the Translations column.

Dictionary of semantic fields (Champ Lexical)

This dictionary displays all the French words that are semantically related to the headword. These are grouped by syntactic category (nouns, adjectives, verbs) and ranked by relative strength. In total, 69,000 entries, including 10,000 proper nouns, are joined by 2.8 million links.

Conjugation dictionary (Conjugaison)

Antidote’s French conjugation dictionary provides the complete conjugation for more than 9,000 French verbs, in total more than 450,000 conjugated forms. For each verb, the conjugation dictionary displays a complete conjugation table that includes all the conjugated forms in all the tenses and moods, both for the simple form of the verb and the pronominal form (if it exists). The form typed in the headword zone is highlighted in the table to make it easier to find. Click on any form in the table to select it, and then on the Replace button to insert it into your text.

To make it easier to consult, the table groups the numerous conjugated forms into simple tenses (temps simples), compound tenses (temps composés), including the auxiliary with which the verb is conjugated, and periphrastic tenses (temps périphrastiques).

For compound tenses, a menu is available to illustrate the different agreements of the past participle according to the position, gender and number of the complément d’objet direct (if applicable) or according to the gender and number of the subject. This menu is only available for verbs with variable past participles; otherwise Antidote shows PP invariable. To learn more about past participle agreement, click the link to the guides shown in the Notes box.

Dictionary of families (Famille)

The French dictionary of families presents all the words in the headword’s morpho-semantic family. When the headword exhibits multiple meanings that are sufficiently distinct, a horizontal grey line separates the families related to each.

Dictionary of quotations (Citations)

To illustrate how the words of the language are actually used, the French dictionary of quotations offers a compilation of more than 280,000 sentences taken from great authors and major newspapers. Each quote comes with a hyperlink that allows you to find its electronic source on the Internet.

Historical dictionary (Historique)

The historical dictionary provides the detailed etymology of 98,000 words, accompanied in most cases by a hierarchical list of etymologically related words (Parents étymologiques), and often supplemented with explanatory remarks.

Entries in the French historical dictionary are divided into the following components:

  • The etymology of the headword, including at least the etymon (i.e. the word from which the headword is derived), its meaning and the language from which it derives (in orange and linked to an article in the historical guides). Other information may be provided, e.g. whether the headword belongs to the native stock of the language (“fonds primitif”), the influence of a second etymon on the main etymon, the apparent (morphological) etymology of a derived form, etc. For some words whose etymology is difficult or very interesting, an explanatory remark may provide further information.
  • The etymologically related words (Parents étymologiques), which, beginning with the main etymon, form a sort of family tree that traces the word’s evolution. For example, for the French word texture (from the classical Latin texere, “to weave”), the etymologically related words include the Old French tistre (which gave rise to the French noun tissu), the Middle French tissir (from which the modern French verb tisser is derived), the medieval Latin textualis (from which modern French gets the adjective textuel), etc. All these words share a common etymon: the Latin verb texere. To clarify the list of etymologically related words, a simple line of Ascendance is also included, which indicates sequentially, from the oldest etymon to the most recent, the major steps in the headword’s evolution. The symbol > can be read as meaning “gave rise to, produced, formed”.
  • Historical changes in the spelling of over 26,000 words, from their origins to the present day, presented on a timeline and attested by 275,000 sentences gathered from historical sources. Using this, we discover that azote “nitrogen”, for instance, was coined by Lavoisier from Greek affixes meaning “not” and “life”, and that fleur  “flour” was written as both fleur and flour until the 17th century.

Remember too that a summary of the word’s etymology appears in the Précisions panel in the definitions dictionary, where the symbol  allows you to access the historical dictionary.

Accessing Wikipedia

You can access the French version of Wikipedia, the well-known online encyclopedia, by clicking directly on the Wikipédia link in the Compléments section of the details panel or by clicking the button which is found to the right of many expressions in the French dictionaries. Access to Wikipedia or its sensitive content can be restricted using the settings. Antidote displays the results from Wikipedia directly in the dictionary window. The hyperlink in English in the upper right corner of the article lets you switch to the English version of the article, if it exists in Wikipedia. Conversely, an article that is displayed in English will include the hyperlink in French.

Multi-word search

Like its English counterpart, French multi-word search allows you to search for complex expressions in the dictionaries. This feature makes it easy for you to find the links between words, like those that occur in expressions, combinations, proverbs, etc.

Searching with variables

Searching with variables in French is very similar to searching with variables in English.

Searching by criteria

Searching by criteria is a powerful tool that lets you make the most of the vast stores of information residing in Antidote’s French dictionaries. The same tools are offered for searching by criteria in French as in English, and the two are also accessed in the same way. For the most part, the search criteria are also the same in both languages; you can search by word, lexical category, definition, domain, encyclopedic information, number of letters, number of syllables, frequency, rhyme, register, number, positive/negative proverb, translation and language of origin. To these, French adds gender and rectified spelling.

In French, there’s an extra option in the Forms section allowing you to require an exact match of the accented characters (exact accents), in addition to searching for all inflected forms (inflections) and including spaces in the results (with spaces).

Favourites and personalized word lists

Adding and removing favourites and personalized word lists is done the same way in the English and French dictionaries (see the Dictionaries chapter). The Edit… command in the favourites menu, accessible by clicking on the arrow to the right of the heart, opens the Favourites window. This window displays English and French lists separately and offers several options for managing them. The favourites menu also includes the command Also in English/French, which is used to alternate between the English and French lists.

Discovering new words

By clicking the Discover button (), you can discover and learn new French words, both frequent and rare, in addition to the names of famous people, countries, cities or World Heritage sites, and read interesting notes about French etymology.