penser

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French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle French penser, from Old French penser, borrowed from Latin pensō. See also the inherited doublet peser, as well as panser, originally an alternative spelling which acquired a special sense.

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

penser

  1. (intransitive) to think, reflect, concentrate one's mind on something (late 10th century in Passion, ed. D'Arco Silvio Avalle, 55)
    Penser tout haut.
    Think aloud, speak one's mind freely.
    • 1845, Alexandre Dumas, La Reine Margot, vol. I, chap. 4:
      Je suis incapable de rassembler deux idées ; votre vue m'a ébloui. Je ne pense plus, j'admire.
      I am unable to unite two ideas; your aspect has dazzled my mind. I am not thinking anything any longer, I admire.
    • 1932, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Voyage au bout de la nuit:
      Vous n'êtes pas venu ici pour penser, mais pour faire les gestes qu'on vous commandera d'exécuter… Nous n'avons pas besoin d'imaginatifs dans notre usine. C'est de chimpanzés dont nous avons besoin…
      You're not here in order to think, but to do the movements one has told you to perform… We don't need any visionaries in our factory. It's chimpanzees we need…
    • 1992, David E. Walker, “La pauvreté de la foi”, dans Le Québec sceptique, n° 21 (hiver 1992), p. 32:
      Ma tâche vise davantage à leur enseigner comment penser et non que penser. J'espère ainsi que lorsqu'ils auront appris à penser, mes élèves pourront réfléchir par eux-mêmes plutôt que de laisser les autres le faire à leur place.
      My task is rather aimed at teaching them how to think, not what to think. Having said that, I hope that, when they have learned to think, my pupils will be able to reflect by themselves rather than let others do it in their stead.
  2. (intransitive) to estimate, imagine, believe (late 10th century in Passion, 339)
    Vous n'en êtes pas où vous pensez.
    You are not where you think you are.
    Il y a, je pense, dix kilomètres de chez vous chez moi.
    It is ten kilometres, I estimate, from your place to my place.
    J'irai vous voir demain, je pense.
    I will see you tomorrow, I suppose.
    La chose n'est pas si facile qu'on le pense.
    The thing is not as simple as one might believe.
    Je ne pensais pas que vous vous méprendriez sur le sens de mes paroles.
    I didn't imagine you would be mistaken on the sense of my words.
    • 1999, Amélie Nothomb, Stupeur et tremblements, Éditions Albin Michel S. A., p. 11:
      Je pensai que j'avais été trop aimable ou familière avec Adam Johnson et je rédigeai un texte froid et distant: […].
      I believed I had been too amiable or familiar with Adam Johnson, so I drafted a cold and distant text: […]
  3. (originally with a que sentence) to be of the opinion that, believe (1155 in Wace, Brut, ed. I. Arnold, 263)
    Je pensais qu'il était de vos amis.
    I thought he was a friend.
    Je veux être d'accord avec toi, mais je ne pense pas que nous ayons besoin de son aide.
    I want to agree with you, but I don't think we need his help.
    Je pense comme vous.
    I agree with your view.
    Il ne dit rien qu'il ne pense.
    He doesn't say anything he doesn't believe.
    Dites librement ce que vous pensez.
    Cavalierly state your opinion.
    J'espère qu'il ne pense pas ce qu'il dit.
    I hope he doesn't believe what he is saying.
    Faites-moi connaître votre façon de penser.
    Tell me how you think about it.
    Pensez-vous ?
    Do you really believe that? (1935, punning at the dialogue partner's missing belief in his own statement)
    • 1945, Fernand Mitton, La Presse française, vol. 2, chez Guy Le Prat, p. 172:
      Cette feuille ne craignait pas de dire ce qu'elle pensait, même aux personnages les plus hauts placés.
      This gazette wasn't afraid to state what they thought, even to persons of the highest ranks.
  4. (intransitive) to be absorbed by a worry or depressing thoughts (c. 1160 in Éneas, 2221)
  5. (intransitive) to conceive a project (c. 1160 in Éneas, ed. J.-J. Salverda de Grave, 1692)
  6. (with de + object) to evoke the image or remembrance of someone in one's mind (c. 1160 in Éneas, ed. J.-J. Salverda de Grave, 1223)
    Penser d'aucun.
  7. (with à + object) to attach one's thinking to someone, especially lovingly (c. 1165 in Troie, 17621 ds T.-L.)
    Pensez à moi.
    Think of me.
    Il ne pense qu'à celle qu'il aime.
    He only thinks but of his beloved.
  8. (with infinitive) to believe being or doing something (c. 1165 in Troie, 29997 ds T.-L.)
    Il pense être plus habile que les autres.
    He believes being smarter than others.
    Il ne pensait pas être observé.
    He didn't think he was being observed.
    J'ai pensé mourir.
    I thought I was going to die.
    • 1817, Marquise Donnissan de Larochejaquelein, Mémoires, L.-G. Michaud, Paris, chap. II, p. 33:
      Le lendemain pensa nous être funeste.
      The other day was to be baleful for us. (Note: This impersonal use, even if in use by the classics, is criticized as improper.)
  9. (with mal or bien + de + object) to think well or badly, to have a high or low opinion of someone (c. 1170 in Beroul, Tristan, ed. E. Muret, 110)
    C'est un homme qui pense toujours mal des autres.
    It's a man who always thinks badly of others.
    Je ne pense de cette affaire ni bien ni mal.
    I don't think neither well nor badly of this affair.
    Que pensez-vous de cet homme ?
    What do you think about this man?
  10. (with de + infinitive) to try or prepare to do something (1160–74 in Wace, Rou, ed. A. J. Holden, III, 10814)
    Penser de faire qqc.
  11. (transitive, reflexive, obsolete) to reflect on something (late 11th century in Roland, ed. J. Bédier, 355)
    Soi penser qqc.
  12. (with à + object) to bear, keep something in mind, to consider something (c. 1200 in Poème moral, 161a)
    Le mal vient sans qu'on y pense.
    Evil comes without one thinking of it.
    Faire ou dire une chose sans penser à mal.
    Do or say something without meaning to harm.
    À quoi pensez-vous ?
    What are you thinking?
    • 1393, Ménagier, ed. G. E. Brereton and J. M. Ferrier, I, VI, p. 78:
      Penser à mal.
      To have a bad intention.
    • 2011, Umberto Eco, Le cimetière de Prague, traduit de l'italien par Jean-Noël Schifano, ed. Grasset, chap. 6:
      Rebaudengo était une fripouille et, si je pense à tout ce que j'ai fait après, j'ai l'impression de n'avoir fait des fripouilleries qu'à des fripouilles.
      Rebaudengo was a rascal, and if I think of all the things I have done afterwards, I am under the impression of not having played tricks but to rascals.
  13. (with infinitive) to intend to do, aim at doing something (c. 1200 in Hist. Joseph, 299 ds T.-L.)
    Je pensais aller vous voir.
    I fancied paying you a visit.
    Que pensez-vous faire ?
    What do you intend to do?
  14. (transitive) to have something in one's mind (c. 1220 in Barlaam et Josaphat, ed. C. Appel, 5623)
    C'est un homme qui ne dit jamais ce qu'il pense.
    That's a man who never says what he thinks.
    Il pense beaucoup de choses qu'il ne dit pas.
    He thinks a lot of things he doesn't say.
  15. (with à + infinitive) to intend to do, aim at doing something (1306 in Joinville, ed. N. L. Corbett, § 612)
    À quoi pensez-vous de vous conduire ainsi ?
    What are you aiming at by behaving like this?
    Je suis trop de vos amis pour avoir pensé à vous nuire.
    I am too much your friend to think of harming you.
    Je pensais à aller vous voir hier.
    I considered to visit you yesterday.
  16. (with mal, obsolete) to intend to do something bad (15th century in Isopet III de Paris, ed. J. Bastin, vol. 2, p. 401)
    Penser mal.
  17. (with à + object) to take care of (since 1636 in Monet)
    Il nous a reçus admirablement, il a pensé à tout.
    He has welcomed us admirably, he has thought of everything.
  18. (with bien, in politics, religion, moral) to have opinions in accordance with the agreed principles (1823 in Courier)
    Bien penser.
  19. (with adverb or adverbial expression) to have a certain intellectual tendency, preference or property
    Penser finement, noblement, singulièrement, hardiment.
    To think finely, nobly, in a singular way, boldly.
    Penser avec justesse.
    To think with accuracy.
    Penser juste.
    To think properly.

Usage notes[edit]

Today penser is commonly construed in one of the following ways:

  • "penser que proposition" — "to think (that) clause". (Note: The que is mandatory.)
    • "Je pense qu'il est parti." — "I think (that) he's left."
    • "Je ne pense pas qu'il soit parti." — "I don't think (that) he's left."
  • "penser à substantif" — "to think about noun".
    • "Je pense à mon frère." — "I'm thinking about my brother."
    • "Je pense à elle." — "I'm thinking about her." (Not *"Je lui pense.")
  • "penser adverbe [especially bien = well, mal = ill] de substantif" — "to think adverb of noun". (Note: in questions, the adverb is represented by que, not by comment as might be expected.)
    • "Je pense très bien de lui." — "I think very well of him."
    • "Qu'est-ce que tu en penses ?" — "What do you think of it?"
  • "penser infinitif" — "to think one will bare infinitive".
    • "Je pense y aller demain." — "I think I'll go there tomorrow."
  • "penser à infinitif" — "to think about gerund".
    • "Je pense à y aller demain." — "I'm thinking about going there tomorrow."

Conjugation[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Latin[edit]

Verb[edit]

penser

  1. first-person singular present passive subjunctive of pensō

Middle French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French penser, borrowed from Latin pensō.

Verb[edit]

penser

  1. to think; to reflect
  2. to think (have an opinion)

Conjugation[edit]

  • Middle French conjugation varies from one text to another. Hence, the following conjugation should be considered as typical, not as exhaustive.

Norman[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old French penser, borrowed from Latin pensō (ponder, consider). Compare also p'ser, an inherited doublet.

Verb[edit]

penser

  1. (Jersey) to think
    • 2013 March 1, Geraint Jennings, “Mar martello”, in The Town Crier[1], page 20:
      Trop d'couques gâtent la soupe sans doute, et ché s'sait mus d'penser coumme tchi agrandi la pâte ou affêtchi la soupe au run d'hèrtchîngni tréjous pouor la manniéthe d'la cop'thie, ou la manniéthe dé couté ou d'dréch'rêsse.
      Too many cooks no doubt spoil the broth, and it'd be better to think about how to make the pie bigger or thicken the soup instead of always arguing over how to carry out the cutting or what type of knife or ladle to use.

Old French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from Latin pensō. Compare the inherited doublet peser.

Verb[edit]

penser

  1. to think

Conjugation[edit]

This verb conjugates as a first-group verb ending in -er. The forms that would normally end in *-ss, *-st are modified to s, st. Old French conjugation varies significantly by date and by region. The following conjugation should be treated as a guide.

Descendants[edit]

Noun[edit]

penser m (oblique plural pensers, nominative singular pensers, nominative plural penser)

  1. thought

Synonyms[edit]