Root Metaphor

To take – acquisition metaphor

Illustrative Example of Root Metaphor


The roots of the word Apprendre can be found in the Latin roots of the word apprendere “to take hold of, grasp”. Broken down further from PIE root ad – “to, near, at” + pre PIE root “before” + PIE root ghende- “to seize, take”

Common phrases

Words associated with learning
  • absorber - to absorb
  • Intégrer - to integrate
  • Réviser - to review, to aim at it again, to revise
  • Bosser – to be working so hard that you get a humpback (applies to study, work, paying bills, etc.)
Common phrases about learning
  • Saisir un concept – to grasp a concept
  • Apprendre ou à laisser - learn it or leave it
  • À prendre ou à laisser - take it or leave it
  • Mieux vaut comprendre qu'apprendre - it is better to understand that to learn
  • Apprendre quelque chose - to learn something
Common phrases about teaching
  • Apprendre à quelqu'un à faire quelque chose - to teach someone to do something
  • Informer - to put in form, to give a form, shape
  • Communiquer - to put in common
  • Délivrer un programme, un contenu - set it free and let it loose in the world
  • L’Enseignement lent saigne ment - slow bleed and lie
  • L'enfant/l'étudiant n'est pas un vase qu'on remplit mais un feu qu'on allume – Montaigne – the learner is not a vase/bowl to fill but a fire to light.
Common phrases about knowledge
  • Le poids de la connaissance – the weight of knowledge
  • La connaissance est le pouvoir – knowledge is power
  • La connaissance est une arme – knowledge is a weapon
  • Savoir, c'est surtout penser qu'on sait – to know is mostly to think that we know
Phrases about knowing
  • J'ai perdu le fil de ma pensée - I lost the thread of my thought
  • Mieux vaut une tête bien faite qu'une tête bien pleine - Montaigne - better to have a good looking (well-built that can think) head than a full head


The French word apprendre comes from the Latin word apprehendere which means to seize, grasp, cling to, embrace, apprehend. It is kin to akin to Ancient Greek χανδάνω (khandanō, "hold, contain"). To seize or to take invokes the Acquisition Metaphor, which has a major influence on formal education. It depicts learning as the acquisition and accumulation of objectified knowledge. As such knowledge has physical properties that can be possessed, constructed, built upon, or lost. The teacher is responsible for passing knowledge on to the passive learner.

Implicit Spatial Associations

The taking – Acquisition Metaphor suggests an internalized notion of knowledge that is passed from the teacher to the learner.

Please cite this article as:
Francis, K., & Davis, B. & Le Doze, E. “Apprendre" (French). in Metaphors of Learning in Different Languages. .

⇦ Back to Map
⇦ Back to List