Académie française
L'Académie française also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 learned body on matters pertaining to the French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII
Louis XIII of France
Louis XIII was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1610 to 1643.Louis was only eight years old when he succeeded his father. His mother, Marie de Medici, acted as regent during Louis' minority...

. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, it was restored in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

. It is the oldest of the five académies of the Institut de France
Institut de France
The Institut de France is a French learned society, grouping five académies, the most famous of which is the Académie française.The institute, located in Paris, manages approximately 1,000 foundations, as well as museums and chateaux open for visit. It also awards prizes and subsidies, which...


The Académie consists of forty members, known as immortels (immortals). New members are elected by the members of the Académie itself. Académicians hold office for life, but they may be removed for misconduct. Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

, named Marshall of France after the victory of Verdun
Verdun is a city in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Verdun is the biggest city in Meuse, although the capital of the department is the slightly smaller city of Bar-le-Duc.- History :...

 in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, was elected to the Academy in 1931 and, following his governorship of Vichy France
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, forced to resign his seat in 1945. The body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language; it is charged with publishing an official dictionary of the language. Its rulings, however, are only advisory; not binding on either the public or the government.


The Académie's origins occur in an informal literary group that grew out of the salons
Salon (gathering)
A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to...

 held at the Hôtel de Rambouillet
Hôtel de Rambouillet
The Hôtel de Rambouillet was the Paris residence of Madame de Rambouillet, who ran a renowned literary salon there from about 1607 until her death in 1665...

, during the late 1620s and early 1630s. They began meeting at Valentin Conrart
Valentin Conrart
Valentin Conrart was a French author, and as a founder of the Académie française, the first occupant of seat 2.-Biography:He was born in Paris of Calvinist parents, and was educated for business. However, after his father's death in 1620, he began to move in literary circles, and soon acquired a...

's house, seeking informality. There were then nine members. Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of France, took the body under his protection, and in anticipation of the formal creation of the academy, new members were appointed in 1634. On 22 February 1635, at Richelieu's urging, King Louis XIII granted letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

 formally establishing the body; according to the letters patent registered at the Parlement de Paris
Parlements were regional legislative bodies in Ancien Régime France.The political institutions of the Parlement in Ancien Régime France developed out of the previous council of the king, the Conseil du roi or curia regis, and consequently had ancient and customary rights of consultation and...

 on 10 July 1637, the Académie française was "to labor with all the care and diligence possible, to give exact rules to our language, to render it capable of treating the arts and sciences". The Académie française has remained responsible for the regulation of French grammar, spelling, and literature.

Richelieu's model, the first academy devoted to winnowing out the "impurities" of a language, was the Accademia della Crusca
Accademia della Crusca
The Accademia della Crusca is an Italian society for scholars and Italian linguists and philologists established in Florence. After the Accademia Cosentina, it is the oldest Italian academy still in existence...

, founded in Florence in 1582, which formalized the already dominant position of the Tuscan dialect
Tuscan dialect
The Tuscan language , or the Tuscan dialect is an Italo-Dalmatian language spoken in Tuscany, Italy.Standard Italian is based on Tuscan, specifically on its Florentine variety...

 of Florence as the model for Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

; the Florentine academy had published its Vocabolario in 1612.

During the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, the National Convention
National Convention
During the French Revolution, the National Convention or Convention, in France, comprised the constitutional and legislative assembly which sat from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795 . It held executive power in France during the first years of the French First Republic...

 suppressed all royal académies, including the Académie française. In 1792, the election of new members to replace those who died was prohibited; in 1793, the académies were themselves abolished. They were all replaced in 1795 by a single body called the Institut de France, or Institute of France. Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul, decided to restore the former académies, but only as "classes" or divisions of the Institut de France. The second class of the Institut was responsible for the French language, and corresponded to the former Académie française. When King Louis XVIII
Louis XVIII of France
Louis XVIII , known as "the Unavoidable", was King of France and of Navarre from 1814 to 1824, omitting the Hundred Days in 1815...

 came to the throne in 1816, each class regained the title of "Académie"; accordingly, the second class of the Institut became the Académie française. Since 1816, the existence of the Académie française has been uninterrupted.

The President of France is the "protector" or patron of the Académie. Cardinal Richelieu originally fulfilled this role; upon his death in 1642, Pierre Séguier
Pierre Séguier
-Early years:Born in Paris, France of a prominent legal family originating in Quercy. His grandfather, Pierre Séguier , was président à mortier in the parlement of Paris from 1554 to 1576, and the chancellor's father, Jean Séguier, a seigneur d'Autry, was civil lieutenant of Paris at the time of...

, the Chancellor of France, succeeded him. King Louis XIV
Louis XIV of France
Louis XIV , known as Louis the Great or the Sun King , was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. His reign, from 1643 to his death in 1715, began at the age of four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days...

 took over the function when Séguier died in 1672; since then, the French head of state has always served as the Académie's protector. From 1672 to 1805, the official meetings of the Académie were held at the Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

; since 1805, the Académie française has met at the Collège des Quatre Nations (now known as the Palais de l'Institut). The remaining académies of the Institut de France also meet at the Palais de l'Institut.


The Académie française has forty seats, each of which is assigned a separate number. Candidates make their applications for a specific seat, not to the Académie in general: if several seats are vacant, a candidate may apply separately for each. Since a newly-elected member is required to eulogize his predecessor in his installation ceremony, it is not uncommon that potential candidates refuse to apply for particular seats because they dislike the predecessors so much that even an enormous exercise in tact will not suffice.

Members are known as les immortels (the immortals) because of the motto
A motto is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. A motto may be in any language, but Latin is the most used. The local language is usual in the mottoes of governments...

, À l'immortalité ("To immortality"), that appears on the official seal of the charter granted by Cardinal Richelieu. One of the immortels is chosen by his or her counterparts to be the Académie's Perpetual Secretary; the Perpetual Secretary serves for life, or until resignation. The Académie may, furthermore, appoint a former Perpetual Secretary to the office of Honorary Perpetual Secretary. The most senior member, by date of election, is the Dean of the Académie.

New members are elected by the Académie itself. (The original members were appointed.) When a seat becomes vacant, a person may apply to the Secretary if he wishes to become a candidate. Alternatively, existing members may nominate other candidates. A candidate is elected on a majority of votes from voting members. A quorum
A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly necessary to conduct the business of that group...

 is twenty members. If no candidate receives an absolute majority, another election must be held at a later date. The election is valid only if the protector of the Académie, the President of France, grants his approval. The President's approbation, however, is only a formality. (There was a controversy about the candidacy of Paul Morand
Paul Morand
Paul Morand was a French diplomat, novelist, playwright and poet, considered an early Modernist.He was a graduate of the Paris Institute of Political Studies...

, whom Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 opposed in 1958. Morand was finally elected ten years later, and he was received without the customary visit, at the time of investiture, to the Élysée palace.)

The new member is then installed at a sitting of the Académie. The new member must deliver a speech to the Académie, which includes a eulogy
A eulogy is a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing, especially one recently deceased or retired. Eulogies may be given as part of funeral services. However, some denominations either discourage or do not permit eulogies at services to maintain respect for traditions...

 for the member being replaced. This is followed by a speech made by one of the members. Eight days thereafter, a public reception is held, during which the new member makes a speech thanking his counterparts for his election. Once, a member (Georges de Porto-Riche
Georges de Porto-Riche
Georges de Porto-Riche was a French dramatist and novelist.At the age of twenty, his pieces in verse began to be produced at the Parisian theatres; he also wrote some books of verse which met with a favorable reception, but these early works were not reprinted...

) was not accorded a reception because the eulogy he made of his predecessor was not considered satisfactory, and he refused to rewrite it. Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

 refused to be received because he feared that he might be received by his enemy, Raymond Poincaré
Raymond Poincaré
Raymond Poincaré was a French statesman who served as Prime Minister of France on five separate occasions and as President of France from 1913 to 1920. Poincaré was a conservative leader primarily committed to political and social stability...


Members remain in the Académie for life. However, the body may expel an academician for grave misconduct. The first expulsion came in 1638, when Auger de Moléon de Granier
Auger de Moléon de Granier
Auger de Moléon Granier was a French writer. Little is known of his life , but he is notable for being the first member of the Académie française ever to be expelled, for theft, only 6 months after his election to it in September 1635.-Works:He published unedited manuscripts, including Les...

 was removed for theft. The most recent expulsions came at the end of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

; Abel Bonnard
Abel Bonnard
Abel Bonnard was a French poet, novelist and politician.-Biography:Born in Poitiers, Vienne, his early education was in Marseilles with secondary studies at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris...

, Abel Hermant
Abel Hermant
Abel Hermant was a French novelist, playwright, essayist and writer, and member of the Académie Française.-Biography:Hermant was born in Paris, the son of an architect....

, Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

, and Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

 were all excluded for their association with the Vichy regime
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

. In total, twenty members have been expelled from the Académie.

There have been a total of 719 immortels, of whom six have been women (the first woman, Marguerite Yourcenar
Marguerite Yourcenar
Marguerite Yourcenar was a Belgian-born French novelist and essayist. Winner of the Prix Femina and the Erasmus Prize, she was the first woman elected to the Académie française, in 1980, and the seventeenth person to occupy Seat 3.-Biography:Yourcenar was born Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie...

, was elected in 1980 — besides the six elected women, 14 women were candidates, the first one in 1874). Individuals who are not citizens of France may be, and have been, elected. Moreover, although most academicians are writers, one need not be a member of the literary profession to become a member. The Académie has included numerous politicians, lawyers, scientists, historians, philosophers, and senior Roman Catholic clergymen. Five French heads of state (Adolphe Thiers
Adolphe Thiers
Marie Joseph Louis Adolphe Thiers was a French politician and historian. was a prime minister under King Louis-Philippe of France. Following the overthrow of the Second Empire he again came to prominence as the French leader who suppressed the revolutionary Paris Commune of 1871...

, Raymond Poincaré
Raymond Poincaré
Raymond Poincaré was a French statesman who served as Prime Minister of France on five separate occasions and as President of France from 1913 to 1920. Poincaré was a conservative leader primarily committed to political and social stability...

, Paul Deschanel
Paul Deschanel
Paul Eugène Louis Deschanel was a French statesman. He served as President of France from 18 February 1920 to 21 September 1920.-Biography:...

, Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

, and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981...

), and one foreign head of state (Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor
Léopold Sédar Senghor was a Senegalese poet, politician, and cultural theorist who for two decades served as the first president of Senegal . Senghor was the first African elected as a member of the Académie française. Before independence, he founded the political party called the Senegalese...

 of Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

) have been members. Other famous members include Louis, duc de Broglie
Louis, 7th duc de Broglie
Louis-Victor-Pierre-Raymond, 7th duc de Broglie, FRS was a French physicist and a Nobel laureate in the year 1929. He was the sixteenth member elected to occupy seat 1 of the Académie française in 1944, and served as Perpetual Secretary of the Académie des sciences, France.-Biography :Louis de...

, Alexandre Dumas, fils
Alexandre Dumas, fils
Alexandre Dumas, fils was a French author and dramatist. He was the son of Alexandre Dumas, père, also a writer and playwright.-Biography:...

, Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

, Charles, baron de Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

, Louis Pasteur
Louis Pasteur
Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist born in Dole. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases. His discoveries reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and he created the first vaccine for rabies and anthrax. His experiments...

, Henri Poincaré
Henri Poincaré
Jules Henri Poincaré was a French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and a philosopher of science...

, and Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...


Many notable French writers have not become members of the Académie française. In 1855, the writer, Arsène Houssaye
Arsène Houssaye
Arsène Houssaye , French novelist, poet and man of letters, was born at Bruyères , near Laon. His real surname was Housset....

, devised the expression, "forty-first seat", for deserving individuals who were never elected to the Académie, either because their candidacies were rejected, because they were never candidates, or because they died before appropriate vacancies arose. Notable figures in French literature who never became academicians include Jean Jacques Rousseau, Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, particularly Marxism, and was one of the key figures in literary...

, Joseph de Maistre
Joseph de Maistre
Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre was a French-speaking Savoyard philosopher, writer, lawyer, and diplomat. He defended hierarchical societies and a monarchical State in the period immediately following the French Revolution...

, Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

, René Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

, Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

, Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert was a French writer who is counted among the greatest Western novelists. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary , and for his scrupulous devotion to his art and style.-Early life and education:Flaubert was born on December 12, 1821, in Rouen,...

, Molière
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature...

, Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust
Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust was a French novelist, critic, and essayist best known for his monumental À la recherche du temps perdu...

, Jules Verne
Jules Verne
Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

, Theophile Gautier
Théophile Gautier
Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, art critic and literary critic....

, and Émile Zola
Émile Zola
Émile François Zola was a French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism...



The official uniform of a member is known as l'habit vert, or the green habit. The habit vert, worn at the Académie's foreign ceremonies, was first adopted during Napoleon Bonaparte's reorganisation of the Institut de France. It consists of a long black coat and black-feathered cocked hat (officially called a bicorne
The bicorne or bicorn is an archaic form of hat widely adopted in the 1790s as an item of uniform by European and American military and naval officers...

), both richly embroidered with golden-green leafy motifs, together with black trousers or skirt. Further, members receive a ceremonial sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

 (l'épée); however, clergymen do not receive swords.

Role as authority on the French language

The Académie is France's official authority on the usages, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language, although its recommendations carry no legal power—sometimes, even governmental authorities disregard the Académie's rulings.

The Académie publishes a dictionary of the French language, known as the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française
Dictionnaire de l'Académie française
The Dictionnaire de l'Académie française is the official dictionary of the French language.The Académie française is France's official authority on the usages, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language, although its recommendations carry no legal power...

, which is regarded as official in France. A special commission composed of several (but not all) of the members of the Académie undertakes the compilation of the work.

The Académie has published thirteen editions of the dictionary, of which three were preliminary, eight were complete, and two were supplements for specialised words. These include:

Preliminary editions:
  • Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise (from A to Aversion), pre-edition, Frankfurt am Main, 1687
  • Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise (from A to Confiture), pre-edition, Frankfurt am Main, 1687
  • Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise (from A to Neuf), pre-edition, Paris, 1687

Complete editions:
  • Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise dedié au Roy ("1st edition"), Paris, 1694
  • Nouveau Dictionnaire de l’Académie françoise dedié au Roy ("2nd edition"), Paris, 1718
  • Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise ("3rd edition"), Paris, 1740
  • Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise ("4th edition"), Paris, 1762
  • Le Dictionnaire de l'Académie françoise ("5th edition"), Paris, 1798
  • Dictionnaire de l'Académie française ("6th edition"), Paris, 1835
  • Dictionnaire de l'Académie française ("7th edition"), Paris, 1879
  • Dictionnaire de l'Académie française ("8th edition"), Paris, 1932–1935

Supplementary editions for the sciences, arts, and technology:
  • Corneille, Thomas, Le Dictionnaire des Arts et des Sciences, Paris, 1694
  • Barré, Louis, Complément du Dictionnaire de l’Académie française, Paris, 1842

The Académie is continuing work on the ninth edition, of which the first volume (A to Enzyme) appeared in 1992, and the second volume (Éocène to Mappemonde) in 2000. In 1778, the Académie attempted to compile a "historical dictionary" of the French language; this idea, however, was later abandoned, the work never progressing past the letter A.

As French culture has come under increasing pressure with the widespread use of English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 in media and technology, the Académie has tried to prevent the Anglicization of the French language. For example, the Académie has recommended, with mixed success, that some loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

s from English (such as walkman, software and email) be avoided, in favour of words derived from French (baladeur, logiciel, and courriel respectively). Moreover, the Académie has worked to modernize French orthography
French orthography
French orthography encompasses the spelling and punctuation of the French language. It is based on a combination of phonemic and historical principles. The spelling of words is largely based on the pronunciation of Old French c. 1100–1200 CE and has stayed more or less the same since then, despite...

. The body, however, has sometimes been criticized for behaving in an excessively conservative fashion.

A recent controversy involved the officialization of feminine equivalents for the names of several professions. For instance, in 1997, Lionel Jospin
Lionel Jospin
Lionel Jospin is a French politician, who served as Prime Minister of France from 1997 to 2002.Jospin was the Socialist Party candidate for President of France in the elections of 1995 and 2002. He was narrowly defeated in the final runoff election by Jacques Chirac in 1995...

's government began using the feminine noun "la ministre" to refer to a female minister, following the official practice of Canada, Belgium and Switzerland and a common, though until then unofficial, practice in France. The Académie, however, insisted on the traditional use of the masculine noun, "le ministre," for a minister of either gender. Use of either form remains controversial.


The Académie française is responsible for awarding several different prizes in various fields (including literature, painting, poetry, theatre, cinema, history, and translation). Almost all of the prizes have been created in the twentieth century, and only two prizes were awarded before 1780. In total, the Académie awards over sixty prizes, most of them annually.

The most important prize is the grand prix de la francophonie, which was instituted in 1986, and is funded by the governments of France, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Monaco
Monaco , officially the Principality of Monaco , is a sovereign city state on the French Riviera. It is bordered on three sides by its neighbour, France, and its centre is about from Italy. Its area is with a population of 35,986 as of 2011 and is the most densely populated country in the...

, and Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. Other important prizes include the grand prix de littérature (for a literary work), the grand prix du roman (for a novel), the grand prix de poésie (for poetry), the grand prix de philosophie (for a philosophical work), and the grand prix Gobert (for a work on French history).

Opposing regional languages

The Académie française interfered in June 2008 in the French Parliament talks about regional languages (Alsatian
Alsatian language
Alsatian is a Low Alemannic German dialect spoken in most of Alsace, a region in eastern France which has passed between French and German control many times.-Language family:...

, Basque
Basque language
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

, Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

, Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

, Corsican
Corsican language
Corsican is a Italo-Dalmatian Romance language spoken and written on the islands of Corsica and northern Sardinia . Corsican is the traditional native language of the Corsican people, and was long the vernacular language alongside the Italian, official language in Corsica until 1859, which was...

, Occitan, and Francoprovençal
Franco-Provençal language
Franco-Provençal , Arpitan, or Romand is a Romance language with several distinct dialects that form a linguistic sub-group separate from Langue d'Oïl and Langue d'Oc. The name Franco-Provençal was given to the language by G.I...

), when it protested against constitutional protection for them.

Current members

The current members of the Académie française listed by seat number:

Seat | Name | Elected
Claude Dagens
Claude Dagens
Claude Jean Pierre Dagens is a French prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, serving as bishop of Angoulême.Previously the deputy bishop of the diocese of Poitiers from 1999 to 2005, he is a specialist in Catholic doctrine, and was elected the twentieth member to occupy seat 1 of the Académie...

Hector Bianciotti
Hector Bianciotti
Hector Bianciotti is an Argentine-born French author and member of the Académie française.-Biography:Born Héctor Bianciotti in Calchin Oeste in Córdoba Province , Bianciotti's parents were immigrants from Piedmont, who communicated among themselves in the dialect of that region but who forbade...

Jean-Denis Bredin
Jean-Denis Bredin
Jean-Denis Bredin is a French attorney and founding partner of the firm Bredin Prat. He is the twentieth, and current occupant of seat 3 of the Académie française, elected on 15 June 1989.-Bibliography:...

Jean-Luc Marion
Jean-Luc Marion
Jean-Luc Marion is among the best-known living philosophers in France, former student of Jacques Derrida and one of the leading Catholic thinkers of modern times. Marion's take on the postmodern is informed by his expertise in patristic and mystical theology, phenomenology, and modern philosophy...

Assia Djebar
Assia Djebar
Assia Djebar is the pen-name of Fatima-Zohra Imalayen , an Algerian novelist, translator and filmmaker. Most of her works deal with obstacles faced by women, and she is noted for her feminist stance. Djebar is considered to be one of North Africa's pre-eminent and most influential writers...

Marc Fumaroli
Marc Fumaroli
Marc Fumaroli was born June 10, 1932 in Marseille. A historian and essayist, he was elected to the Académie française March 2, 1995 and became its Director. He is also a member of the Académie des Inscriptions, the sister academy devoted to high erudition...

7 vacant (Jacqueline de Romilly
Jacqueline de Romilly
Jacqueline Worms de Romilly, née David was a French philologist, classical scholar and fiction writer. Because she was of Jewish ancestry, the Vichy government suspended her from her teaching duties during the Occupation of France. she was the first woman nominated to the Collège de France, and in...

 d. 18 December 2010)
Michel Déon
Michel Déon
Michel Déon is a French writer.With Antoine Blondin, Jacques Laurent and Roger Nimier, he belonged to the literary group of the Hussards. He is a novelist as well as a literary columnist....

Alain Decaux
Alain Decaux
Alain Decaux was born on 23 July 1925 in Lille, France. A historian by profession, he was elected to the Académie française on 15 February 1979.-Bibliography:* 1947 * 1949 ...

10  Florence Delay
Florence Delay
Florence Delay is a French academician and actress.-Biography:The daughter of Marie-Madeleine Carrez and Jean Delay, Delay studied at the Lycée Jean de La Fontaine and then the Sorbonne....

11  Gabriel de Broglie
Gabriel de Broglie
Gabriel-Marie-Joseph-Anselme de Broglie-Revel is a French historian and statesman.He was elected to the Académie française in 2001, replacing Alain Peyrefitte. He is a Knight Commander of the Légion d'honneur...

12  Jean d'Ormesson
Jean d'Ormesson
Count Jean Lefèvre d'Ormesson is a French novelist whose work mostly consists of partially or totally autobiographic novels.- Life :...

13  Simone Veil
Simone Veil
Simone Veil, DBE is a French lawyer and politician who served as Minister of Health under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, President of the European Parliament and member of the Constitutional Council of France....

14  Hélène Carrère d'Encausse
Hélène Carrère d'Encausse
Hélène Carrère d'Encausse is the permanent secretary of the Académie Française and a historian specializing in Russian history....

 Perpetual Secretary.
15  Frédéric Vitoux
Frédéric Vitoux
Frédéric Vitoux is a French writer and journalist.He is known as a novelist, biographer and literary columnist.He was elected at the Académie Française in 2001...

16  Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981...

17  Érik Orsenna
Érik Orsenna
Érik Orsenna is the pen-name of Érik Arnoult , a French politician and novelist. After studying philosophy and political science at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris , Orsenna specialized in economics at the London School of Economics...

18  Michel Serres
Michel Serres
Michel Serres is a French philosopher and author, celebrated for his unusual career.-Life and career:...

19  Jean-Loup Dabadie
Jean-Loup Dabadie
Jean-Loup Dabadie is a French journalist, writer, lyricist, award-winning screenwriter and member of the Académie Française.-Selected filmography:* Anna * Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me -Awards:...

20  Angelo Rinaldi
Angelo Rinaldi
Angelo Rinaldi is a French writer and literary critic.-Biography:Rinaldi is the son of Pierre-François Rinaldi and Antoinette Pietri; after growing up in Corsica he became a journalist...


Seat | Name | Elected
21  Félicien Marceau
Félicien Marceau
Félicien Marceau is the pen name of Louis Carette a French novelist, playwright and essayist originally from Belgium. He was close to the Hussards right-wing literary movement, itself close to the monarchist .He received the Prix Goncourt for his book Creezy in 1969...

22  René de Obaldia
René de Obaldia
René de Obaldia is a French playwright and poet. He was elected to the Académie française June 24, 1999.He grew up in Paris, studying at the Lycée Condorcet before being mobilised for the army in 1940. Taken prisoner, he was sent to Stalag VIII C...

23  Pierre Rosenberg
Pierre Rosenberg
Pierre Max Rosenberg is a French art historian and essayist.Born in Paris, he graduated at the École du Louvre. He joined the Musée du Louvre in 1962 as an assistant, then became curator and later director of the museum. Rosenberg was elected to the Académie française on 7 December...

24  Max Gallo
Max Gallo
Max Gallo is a French writer, historian and politician.The son of Italian immigrants, Max Gallo's early career was in journalism. At the time he was a Communist . In 1974, he joined the Socialist Party. On April 26, 2007, the French Academy recorded his candidacy for its Seat 24, formerly held by...

25  Dominique Fernandez
Dominique Fernandez
Dominique Fernandez is an openly homosexual French novelist and member of the Académie française...

26  Jean-Marie Rouart
Jean-Marie Rouart
Jean-Marie Rouart is a French novelist, essayist and journalist. He was elected to the Académie française December 18, 1997.-Bibliography:*1974 La Fuite en Pologne...

27  Pierre Nora
Pierre Nora
Pierre Nora is a French historian of Jewish descent. Elected to the French Academy on June 7, 2001, he is known for his work on French identity and memory. His name is associated with the study of new history...

28  Jean-Christophe Rufin
Jean-Christophe Rufin
Jean-Christophe Rufin is a French doctor and novelist. He is the president of Action Against Hunger and one of the founders of Médecins Sans Frontières. He was Ambassador of France in Senegal from 2007 to June 2010.-Early life:...

29  Amin Maalouf
Amin Maalouf
Amin Maalouf , born 25 February 1949 in Beirut, is a Lebanese-born French author. Although his native language is Arabic, he writes in French, and his works have been translated into many languages. He received the Prix Goncourt in 1993 for his novel The Rock of Tanios...

30  Danièle Sallenave
Danièle Sallenave
Danièle Sallenave is a French novellist and journalist. In April 2011, she became a member of the Académie française.She won the Prix Renaudot in 1980 for her novel Les Portes de Gubbio....

31 vacant (Jean Dutourd
Jean Dutourd
Jean Gwenaël Dutourd was a French novelist. His mother died when he was seven years old. At the age of twenty, he was taken prisoner fifteen days after Germany's invasion of France in World War II...

 d. 17 January 2011)
32  François Weyergans
François Weyergans
François Weyergans is a Belgian writer and director. His father, Franz Weyergans, was a Belgian and also a writer, while his mother was from Avignon in France...

33 vacant (Michel Mohrt
Michel Mohrt
Michel Mohrt was an editor, essayist, novelist and historian of French literature.Mohrt was born in Morlaix, Finistère. He was elected to the Académie française on 18 April 1985...

 d. 17 August 2011)
34  François Cheng
François Cheng
François Cheng is a French academician, writer, poet and calligrapher...

35  Yves Pouliquen
Yves Pouliquen
Yves Pouliquen was born 17 February 1931 in Mortain, France. A doctor by profession, his work has been dedicated to the pathology of the cornea. In 1994 he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca and on 29 November 2001 he was elected to the Académie française...

36  Philippe Beaussant
Philippe Beaussant
Philippe Beaussant is a French musicologist and novelist, an expert on French baroque music, on which he has published widely. He is the founder of the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, of which he was the artistic adviser of 1987 to 1996. He has also been a producer of musical programs for...

37  René Girard
René Girard
René Girard is a French historian, literary critic, and philosopher of social science. His work belongs to the tradition of anthropological philosophy...

38  François Jacob
François Jacob
François Jacob is a French biologist who, together with Jacques Monod, originated the idea that control of enzyme levels in all cells occurs through feedback on transcription. He shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Medicine with Jacques Monod and André Lwoff.-Childhood and education:François Jacob is...

39  Jean Clair
Jean Clair
Jean Clair is the nom de plume of Gérard Régnier . He is an essayist, a polemicist, an art historian, an art conservator, and a member of the French Academy since May, 2008. He was, for many years, the director of the Picasso Museum in Paris...

40 vacant (Pierre-Jean Rémy
Pierre-Jean Rémy
Pierre-Jean Rémy is the pen-name of Jean-Pierre Angremy who was a French diplomat, novelist, and essayist. He was elected to the Académie française on 16 June 1988, and won the 1986 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française for his novel Une ville immortelle.-Early life:Rémy was born in...

 d. 28 April 2010)

See also

  • Modeled after the Académie française:
    • Academia Brasileira de Letras
      Academia Brasileira de Letras
      Academia Brasileira de Letras is a Brazilian literary non-profit society established at the end of the 19th century by a group of 40 writers and poets inspired by the Académie Française. The first president, Machado de Assis, declared its foundation on December 15, 1896, with the statutes being...

      Portuguese language
      Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

      : Brazilian Academy of Letters)
    • Real Academia Española
      Real Academia Española
      The Royal Spanish Academy is the official royal institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language. It is based in Madrid, Spain, but is affiliated with national language academies in twenty-one other hispanophone nations through the Association of Spanish Language Academies...

      Spanish language
      Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

      : Royal Spanish Academy)
    • Svenska Akademien (Swedish
      Swedish language
      Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

      : Swedish Academy) — Awards the Nobel Prize in Literature
      Nobel Prize in Literature
      Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

    • Russian Academy
      Russian Academy
      The Russian Academy or Imperial Russian Academy was established in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1783 by Empress Catherine II of Russia and princess Dashkova as a research center for Russian language and Russian literature, following the example of the Académie française...

       (in existence from 1783 to 1841)
  • French art salons and academies
    French art salons and academies
    From the seventeenth century to the early part of the twentieth century, artistic production in France was controlled by artistic academies which organized official exhibitions called salons...

  • Conseil international de la langue française
    Conseil international de la langue française
    The Conseil international de la langue française is an association formed in 1968 in Paris whose mission it to enrich the French language and to encourage its influence....

  • Language policy in France
    Language policy in France
    France has one official language, the French language. The French government does not regulate the choice of language in publications by individuals but the use of French is required by law in commercial and workplace communications...

  • List of language regulators
  • Montyon Prizes
    Montyon Prizes
    Montyon Prizes are a series of prizes awarded annually by the Académie Française. They were endowed by the French benefactor Baron de Montyon....

     — prizes awarded annually by the Académie française and the Académie des sciences
  • Office québécois de la langue française
    Office québécois de la langue française
    The Office québécois de la langue française is a public organization established on March 24, 1961 by the Liberal government of Jean Lesage...

External links

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