What exactly does "Pas de deux" mean?

Why is it that the French ballet dance called "Pas de deux" is supposed to mean "dance of two" when the French word for 'dance' is 'danse' and the English translation of 'pas' is not? When using online translation packages of French text to English, the English meaning of "Pas de deux" is "Not both".

I don't understand...

12 Answers

  • JJ
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Pas means step, so the whole thing is two-step. Pas also negates in French, but as a noun it means 'step'.

    Source(s): .
  • klamn
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Pas De Deux Meaning

  • 3 years ago

    Pas De Deux Pronounce

  • Diane
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    In "pas de deux " pas means step. Actually it's a way to refer to a dance performed by two people.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The thing about french language is that the meaning of many words that are the same are understood as different because of the context. It is quite a complex laguage and I can tell you that most of the stuff that an online translator gives you are wrong.

    Like you've been answered already "Pas de deux" is a two-step, being the literal translation a step of two. In this phrase "pas" means step "de deux" of two. It is also understood that it is the name of a dance.

    To say "not both" you would say "pas tout les deux". "Tout les deux" means both. And yes in a different context "pas" means not, although it is not used in the exact same way as we use not in english.

    Complicated ha? Hope u got it!

    Source(s): French speaker
  • 1 decade ago

    "Pas" means "step", as others have said. Apparently "pas" as a negation in French was originally an intensifier of the main negater "ne", a bit like saying "I will not do it, not one step", and then gradually became required in most situations up until "pas" on its own came to mean "not".

    But "not both" is "pas les deux" or "pas tous deux" and "pas de deux" would translate as "no twos" (say in a hand of cards).

    And it's not a two-step, which refers to two steps by the same dancer. It's a longer series of moves by two dancers.

    Source(s): Source for the history of negation in French: The Unfolding of Language by Guy Deutscher. Great book.
  • Sue
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    It literally translates as 'step of two' as Pas means 'step' hence the term 'faux pas' means false step.

    I only know this as the same term is used in dressage (for horses) to mean two horses working together in harmony with each other.

  • 1 decade ago

    Pas in French, means "not" but it also means "Step" and also "Steps" and "Deux" means "Two". The translation would be Dance of two or "Steps of two"

    Please forgive my bad English. This is not my native language.

  • 1 decade ago

    Literally it means: 'step of two'.

  • 1 decade ago

    That's because online translators are stupid machines and that you shouldn't rely on it, that's why!

    And that's also because translation is not a word to word game...

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