D’argent à une aigle de gueules, au vol abaissé, membrée, becquée et couronnée d’or, empiétant une montagne de trois coupeaux de sable issant d’une mer d’azur mouvant de la pointe et ondée d’argent.

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About fife from Nice - The musical traditions from County of Nice (MTCN)Traditional music from County of Nice (France)
Nissart glossary dins A lou fifre nissart - Li tradicioun musicali de la countéa de Nissa (MTCN)
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 You are here: Home > Glossary. Monday December 11th 2023, Saint Damasus I. 


This glossary is not a complete Niçois-French dictionary, it only tries to explain some recurrent words, expressions or place names occurring in traditionnal songs from the County of Nice.

abat or abbat: abbot of the youth, i.e. director of festivities in the villages of the County of Nice. For instance, he offers the rooster during offertory, or leads the farandole in the village streets
Quoted in L’Ouferta de Calèna, Lou Rèi vutanta vuech, Lu Tres Embriac.

aberge: refers to a dry-stone wall, without cement.
Quoted in Li Bigneta.

l’Avenue: in Nice, “the Avenue” extends to south the avenue Malausséna, linking up SNCF station to square Massena. Initially named Station avenue (1864), then renamed Victory avenue on 1919, its current name is avenue Jean-Médecin. For more one century, procession of carnival floats was greeted there, before its shifting to “promenade des Anglais” along the Baie des Anges on 2005.
Quoted in À tu ! À iéu ! Carnaval niçois.

aver or average: means precisely a herd of sheep, i.e. a flock.
Quoted in Au masage, Lo Fantome Pellegrin, Maria Caté, Ouferta de Calèna, Segnour e pastressa, Lou Vaquié.

Babazouk (from Arabic bab al souk, the “gate of the souk”): nickname of the Old Town of Nice, that spreads to west at foot of Castle hill. Approximately triangular-shaped, Babazouk is bordered by Castle hill on east side, Paillon river on west side, and Mediterranean Sea on south. Babazouk includes several areas: Malouna, Marina, Mascouïnà, etc.

bregado or brigada or brigado: gathering, particularly gathering of shepherds, band, brigade, group, troop, ans sometimes rascal.
Quoted in Ai ! quouro tournara lou tèms, bregado, Guihaume, Tòni, Pèire, Proufitas-me lèu, Sus lou coutau, Un ange a fa la crido, Viven urous e countènt.

bugada: washing (from Francique bukon, to wash). The expression couli bugada (“I flow the steam”, i.e. I do the washing) designates the process consisting of doing hot water –producing steam– to flow through layers of alternate linen and wood ashes, in a laundry vat or a boiler. (Cf. for instance Yvonne Verdier, Façons de dire, façons de faire... regarding to Châtillonnais, in Côte-d’Or département.)
So, the bugadiera is the laundress or the washerwoman.
Quoted in La Cansoun dai babarota, La Descaussa, Mazurka souta l’oulivié, Nouvé grassenc, Tanta Jana, Viven urous e countènt.

cairèu: or fanchon, bonnet, from “Fanchon”, diminutive of the first name “Françoise”. The cairèu designates the folded in a triangle head scarf, its points tied beneath the chin, worn by women on feast days in replacement of the capelina. The illustration shows a four folds cairèu, here worn backwards the head.
Quoted in A San-Brancai, Farandola de printèms, Jan, Jausé, Mazurka souta l’oulivié, La Nissarda, Li Pescairis, Pi... ouit !
caireu, fanchon Nissart glossary
 According to Paul Émile Barberi (Rome, 1775 - Nice, 1847), Niçoises, 1831, detail.

calen: a kind of old oil lantern.
Quoted in A la cabana de Betelen, La Calignèra, Fai anà, Guihaume, Tòni, Pèire, La Luerna, Nissa la bella.

canoun: the “cannon of noon”. Since 1861, located on Castel Hill, a cannon shot indicates every day the twelve strokes of noon.
Quoted in Pi... ouit ! Lou Rèi vutanta vuech, Sus la grava, Vaga d’aquì ! Vaga d’aïa !

capelina: a wide-brimmed sun straw hat, flat and round, worn only by women and girls in daily life to protect them from sun or... rain! But on feast days, women tie on their head the cairèu, then the capelina stays hanged to their waist. Nowadays, the capelina has turned into a symbolic accessory of the traditional costume from Nice, giving it a strong visual identity.
Quoted in À Cimiès damoun, La Bella Bouquetiera, Cantan, balan per tu, Nissa, Farandola de printèms, Nissa la bella, La Nissarda, La Rouseta de Nanoun, Rouseta la pastressa.
capelina According to Gustav Adolf Mossacapelina According to Vittorio Garnier-Valetti
According to Gustav Adolf Mossa (left),
according to Vittorio Garnier-Valetti, Niçoises, 1852, detail (right).

chamada or ciamada: dawn serenade, given beneath the windows or in front of the door of somebody, before to produce him the cockade and collect his offering (from chamà, to call).
Quoted in Lu Capitani de quartié, Les circonstances, Innou Seguran, Nouvè.

chaudèu: the “scalded” is a light cake made with scalded pastry, which is dried in an oven. It can be served soft, orange blossom water-flavoured, or tough, aniseed-flavoured.
Quoted in À Cimiès damoun, Ah ! Ah ! Lu Cougourdoun, Farandola de printèms, Lou Festin dei cougourdoun, Lou Festin dai rangou, La Fiha dòu chapacan.

coulougneta: small distaff (diminutive of coulougna, distaff).
Quoted in Li Baumeta, La Garda mobila, La Margarideta, Nissa la bella, Nouvé de la coulougneta, Rouseta filava, Venès virà lou mai.

defici (from Latin aedificium, edifice): a water mill producing olive oil.
Quoted in Lou Vièi Defici.

dorca or dourca: tin cruet, used at the table for edible (olive) oil (from orca, barrel). Designates also the container set down in the church, in which the faithful put down oil intended to maintain the flame of the Holy Sacrament.
Quoted in La Ben Caussada, Nouvè doi Boiroulencs.

Erode: Herod ordered the massacre of the innocents.
Quoted in Bon Diéu ! la grand clarta ! Lei mage dins Jerusalèn, Se vàutre sias countènt.

faissa: terrace (piece of land) cultivated on the hillside, separated in horizontal levels by low walls.
Quoted in A San-Brancai, As vist ? La Cigala, La Pesca, La Sirigauda.

felibre: member of the Felibrige.
Quoted in Coupo santo.

Felibrige: a cultural movement for preservation and revival of the Provençal language and traditions, founded by Frédéric Mistral.

fougairoun or fougueiroun or fugairoun (from Latin focaris, that belongs to hearth): hearth (the place where is made fire in the chimney, and, by extension, the place where lives the family).
Quoted in La Cansoun dai babarota, L’Iver, La Miéu Bella Nissa, O, santa nuech, La Pesca, Lou Pichin Ome, La Regina dòu mai, Lou Vaquié, Viva la pesca !

jas (in Piedmontese gias, cattle pen or enclosure; in Provençal jhas): sheepfold, shelter, litter, bedding, bed of straw.
Quoted in Allons, bergers, partons tous or Quand Dieu naquit à Noël, Aquel ange qu’es vengu, Ausse-ti, frema, Bon Diéu ! la grand clarta ! Helas ! qu noun aurié pieta, Jèsu, vous sias tout fioc e flamo, La fe coumando de crèire, Li a quaucarèn que m’a fa pòu, Micoulau noste pastre, Nouvè de la mountagno, Nouvé dòu pastre, L’Ouferta de Calèna, Lei Pastourèu, Lu Pastourèu, San Jóusé m’a di, Se vàutre sias countènt, Tòni, Guihèn, Peiroun, Tu que cerques tei delice, Un bèu matin, veguère uno acouchado, Uno estello, Un pau après lei tempouro, Vers lou pourtau Sant-Laze.

lauvanié: rolling pin, or slate used in covering roofs.
Quoted in Lu Millioun de Carneval, O, santa nuech, La Pastoura.

magagna or magagno: flaw, spot, defect, sometimes damage, tiredness or hardship (from mahagnare, to go bad, to rot).
Quoted in Li Castagna, Lou Fantàume Pelegrin, Lei Pastourèu, Lu Pastourèu.

mainagié or meinagiè (from Provençal meinagea, to save money in one’s affairs, to spend little, with care): farmer who develops his grounds. More commonly, somebody saving money, economizing.
Quoted in La Farandoulo dei meinagié.

Malouna (): the name of an area in the Babazouk, i.e. the old town.
Quoted in La Ben Caussada, La Cansoun dai babarota.

Marina: (the “Navy”) the ancient name, up to the earlier 18th century, of the area located around the current Cours Saleya, see Babazouk.
Quoted in À la bella poutina, Lu Capitani de quartié, Castèu, baloun e limounada, Nissa la bella, Li Pescairis.

Mascouïnà: the name of an other district in the Babazouk, i.e. the old town.
Quoted in Nissa la bella.

moulin: a generic word to designate (water or wind) mill (from Latin mola, millstone). The defici produces olive oil, the paradou (or paraire) fulls fibres (flax, hemp, wool) of cloths and sheets.
Quoted in Lou Festin dai magou, Nona, bressa, La Rouseta de Nanoun, Lou Tint dòu moulin, Viva l’estocafic !

Paihoun or Pailloun or Païoun or Palhon: Paillon is the river flowing through Nice.
Païoun ven (the river Paillon “is coming”), i.e. is overflowing. And contrariwise: Paioun noun ven se noun es trouble (the river Paillon “is not coming” if not turbid).
Quoted in La Blea, La Fiha dòu chapacan, Innou Seguran, Lu Mai d’en carriera, Lu Millioun de Carneval, Nissa la bella, Niça rebèla, Sus la grava, Lou Tavan merdassié, Vaga d’aquì ! Vaga d’aïa ! Viva l’estocafic.

pan bagnat or pan bagna: (“wet bread”) the local forerunner of the “american sandwich”, composed of tomatoes, anchovies and raw vegetables, generously basted with olive oil.
Quoted in A San-Brancai, Lu Cougourdoun, Farandola de printèms, Lou Festin dei cougourdoun, Lou Festin dai rangou, Lou Rèi vutanta vuech, Salut à Levens.

paradou or paraire: a water mill to full fibres (flax, hemp, wool) of cloths and sheets.

poulì: to polish, and also to whiten.

poulida (feminine) or poulidi (feminine plural) or poulit (masculine): polished and polite, pleasant, welcoming, pretty, and also soft, smooth, white.
Quoted in Li Baumeta, Carnaval niçois, Chut ! teisas-vous, Lei Courdello, El Desembre congelat, Lou queitivié d’aquéu marrit estable, La Rouseta de Nanoun, Lou Tint dòu moulin, Vaqui lo polit mes de mai, Zon-zon.

poutina: sardine alevin.
Quoted in À la bella poutina, Zon-zon.

Rauba-Capèu: “Steals-Hat” is the nickname of this quarter on sea side, between “Les Ponchettes” and the harbour, at the bottom of Castle Hill, where the wind blows sometimes so much that it makes capelina and other wide edges hats fly.
Quoted in Cantan, balan per tu, Nissa, La Fiha dòu chapacan, Madama de Cagna, Pi... ouit !

redouta or redoute: see below veglioni.
Quoted in À tu ! À iéu ! Carnaval niçois.

redris: order, common sense, saving, care, tidiness, neatness, and also discretion or pride; una frema de redris: a woman of good sense, a born housewife, a tidy woman, a painstaking woman and very careful with money, i.e. a good spouse.
Quoted in Flou de Nissa, La Margarideta.

Saleya: located south of Babazouk near the sea, “the Cours” Saleya is the center of the old Marina area, and is well known for its flower market. The cours Saleya welcomed first Carnival corsi from 1873.
Quoted in Fai anà.

sauma or saumeta or saumin: beast of burden, i.e. donkey, she-ass, mule, foal, jenny.
Quoted in Cansoun dei mensònegai, Lu Doui Ae, Dòu tèms de l’Empèri rouman, Duèrme, bèu bambin, Lou Festin dai magou, Lou Miéu Ae, Pèr noun langui long dòu camin, Venès virà lou mai.

sirigauda: freezing cold. Batre la sirigauda, to stamp one’s feet (to keep warm), i.e. to shiver with cold. Winter dance.
Quoted in Lou Festin dai rangou, La Sirigauda.

sofieta, or soufieta: attic, garret... The place “where the songs are born”.
Quoted in La Cansoun dai babarota, Nissa la bella, Per la miéu dama, Lou Roussignòu, Venès virà lou mai.

tavan: refers to the cockchafer and often to the horsefly or gadfly. In the figurative sense, irksome individual.
Quoted in À tu ! À iéu ! La Fourmiga sus l’espiga, La Luerna, Lou Mariage de la fourmiga, La Pâquerette, Lou Peoui cinemà, San Jóusé m’a di, Lu Tavan, Lou Tavan merdassié.

veglione and redoute, or veglioni and redouta: names of specific days at Carnival time, highly prized at the end of 19th century and during the Belle Époque (ca. the Edwardian era), during which the population dressed up, according to a very precise and rigorous colour code, goes to opera house or casino. After World War II, the veglione will be gradually replaced by the “Night of Nice”.
Quoted in À tu ! À iéu !


Lexical items are partly taken from:
     • Avril (J. T.), Dictionnaire provençal-français, Apt, 1839 ;
     • Boucoiran (L.), Dictionnaire analogique & étymologique des idiomes méridionaux, Nîmes, 1875 ;
     • Calvino (Jean-Baptiste), Nouveau dictionnaire niçois-français ;
     • Castellana (Georges), Dictionnaire niçois-français.

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traditional musics county Nice, fife

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