Jargon Genesis: Résumé

In a recent Jargon Genesis about vis-à-vis, I discussed the multitude of French words that have infiltrated our daily conversations. Today, let’s add résumé to that list. It is important that I include the acute accents here so we don’t get confused with the far less interesting word, resume. Though it is worth pointing out that in English, résumé and resume are both acceptable spellings of the word referring to the document you hope will land you your dream job.

In French, résumé is both a verb, the past participle of résumer (to summarize), and a noun (a summary). Interestingly, then, it is acceptable to use résumé in English in this context, “I will provide you with a résumé of the keynote address from the conference.”

But for most of us, we use résumé as a noun referring to that piece of paper on which we have recorded our life’s accomplishments. If you’ve ever second guessed your pronunciation of the word, you can hear it in English here. If you’d like to be more true to the word’s origin, try pronouncing it with a true French accent, though you risk losing that dream job when people can’t understand you.