One of the great, unforeseen advantages of my scribal shrine is that it’s a great place to hang Post-It Notes. I have a dispenser on the desk; the notes come out in fanfold. Very handy. But I never knew what to do with the notes once I’d written them.Usually, the notes constitute a horizontal to-do list. Do this, call that. Today, there is only one Post-It in view. On it, I have written the French word affût. I don’t know what this word means. Its denotation, “carriage, mount,” is clearly not the sense in which it’s ordinarily used. A l’affût seems to mean “in hiding.” The phrase être à l’affût de means “to be lying in wait for” or “to be on the lookout for.”

That’s all very well, but when the word pops up in French texts, none of the foregoing makes complete sense.

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