Is the French feminine noun sensualité asexual? The English noun is sexual. Why? I heed the Etymological Fallacy. But what are some right ways of interpreting the dchotomy, to make it feel reasonable and intuitive? Etymonline only states, but doesn't explain.

... from sensus "feeling" (see sense (n.)). Chiefly "animal instincts and appetites," hence "the lower nature regarded as a source of evil, lusts of the flesh" (1620s).

  • 2
    Have a look at this: cnrtl.fr/definition/sensuel
    – fdb
    Apr 23, 2015 at 8:53
  • 1
    @fdb is right. The assumption that sensualité is asexual is completely wrong.
    – Olivier
    Apr 23, 2015 at 15:18
  • the adjective sensuel(le) covers both Eng. sensuous and sensual Apr 23, 2015 at 16:43
  • @fdb My apologies. I fixed my OP now.
    – user5306
    Apr 24, 2015 at 3:07
  • Where does lechery come into it???
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 26, 2015 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


English has more words of Germanic origin to draw on than French (such as feeling), freeing words of Romance origin for special use. I don't agree sensualité is asexual. It's just that the sexual aspect doesn't dominate. (In feeling it's even weaker, since sensuality exists as an alternative for the sexual meaning.)

The specific negative connotation lechery clearly has a lot to do with protestant hostility to sexuality. France has been dominantly catholic practically forever (the protestants were expelled or killed), so French is less affected by this perversion.

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