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The language of contracts: execute - Translation tip

Translation tip: English execute v. French exécuter

by | 24 Aug 2016 | Translation-wise


To execute is one of these deceptive verbs! It does have several meanings and can be used in various contexts.

It can mean to carry out, whether it is a task, an order, a plan or even a dance. It can also mean to put to death. Depending on the exact context and the actual meaning, you could find up to ten different verbs in French to translate the English verb to execute.
Examples of such verbs would be: accomplir, réaliser, remplir, mettre en œuvre, achever, mettre à exécution, déclencher, exercer, mener à bien, terminer.

But the language of contracts is always a bit special. So, in a legal context and when referring to a contract, it may be tempting to translate to execute as exécuter.

Careful! In a contract, the French verb exécuter can be considered as a false friend! The verb you will need in French more often than not is signer or valider. Indeed, exécuter, in a contract, means to perform, which you will agree is completely different!

However, note that if you are referring to a will, the translation for execute is exécuter.

There you are, you are now aware of this translation trick so make sure you never get caught out! 🙂


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