Cherchez la Femme

Cherchez la femme [sher-shey la-fam] is a French phrase which literally means ‘look for the woman.’ The implication is that a man behaves out of character or in an otherwise inexplicable manner because he is trying to cover up an affair with a woman, or trying to impress or gain favor with a woman. The expression comes from the 1854 novel ‘The Mohicans of Paris’ by Alexandre Dumas. In his 1864 theatrical adaptation the expression translates as: ‘There is a woman in every case; as soon as they bring me a report, I say, ‘Look for the woman!”

The phrase embodies a cliché of detective pulp fiction: no matter what the problem, a woman is often the root cause. It has come to refer to explanations that automatically find the same root cause, no matter the specifics of the problem.

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