Cherchez la femme
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Cherchez la femme is a French phrase which literally means "look for the woman."
Il y a une femme dans toute les affaires; aussitôt qu'on me fait un rapport, je dis: 'Cherchez la femme'.
Translated into English this reads:
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. The phrase has also come to mean more simply "Look for the root cause of the problem."
Uses in popular culture
- O. Henry's story Cherchez La Femme, includes this line: "Ah! yes, I know most time when those men lose money you say, 'Cherchez la femme'--there is somewhere the woman."
- The opening credits for the television series La Femme Nikita includes the phrase "Cherchez la femme, cherchez la femme... dans la nuit, dans la nuit." Translated into English, this reads "Look for the woman, look for the woman... in the night, in the night."
- Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band released a song called "Cherchez La Femme/Se Si Bon" on their self-titled debut album. Ghostface Killah later sampled this song for "Cherchez La Ghost' on his album Supreme Clientele.
- James Ellroy's 'The Black Dahlia' repeats the line "Cherchez La Femme, Bucky. Remember that." throughout the book.