• best, intelligent
  • education, money, prestige
  • fancy, exclusive, high-end
  • Fancy, posh, upperclass
  • MIT, Ivy league, tech industry
  • Modeling, University, Skilled
  • money, society, connections
  • people, aristocrats, strict
  • prestigious, exclusive
  • prestigious, exclusive, impressive
  • prestigious, wealthy
  • Pretentious, Money, Upper Class
  • Privilege, Suburbs, White
  • Rich, posh, fancy
  • school
  • schools, cycling, running
  • superior, high-class
  • superior, pompous, above
  • Top, class,
  • vanguard, proficient
  • wealthy, pompous, oblivious
  • well-to-do, Upper East Side, wealthy
  • Argent,pouvoir,privilèges
  • Artistes, influence, aisé
  • condescendance, supériorité, mépris
  • gouvernement, travail, pouvoir
  • Intellectuels, Dirigeants
  • lauréat, pouvoir, célèbre
  • Mannequin, Pouvoir, Moi
  • meilleur
  • meilleur, excellence
  • meilleurs, majeurs
  • Minorité,argent,pouvoir
  • Minorité, pouvoir
  • Moi, Haut
  • Poutine, Astronautes
  • Premier, Talent
  • Prépa, Lettre, Polytechnique
  • réussite, succès, victoire
  • Sélection, excellence
  • Succès, Apogée, Victoire
  • supérieur, meilleur


It is more common for the Americans to see a negative connotation with the term “elite.” The Americans place more importance on money and education as part of being elite, while the France emphasize the attribute of great power.
The French understand the term “elite” to mean a place of power and success over a place of money or higher education.
Is power something that the French desire? Do French think of the term “elite” with a positive or negative connotation?

I believe Americans generally see an “elite” as someone who is wealthy, privileged, goes to a good school, and destined for success. The French seem to have a more positive connotation of the word.
The French regard the “elites” as people with power and superior intelligence.
Do the French use the term “elite,” or more applicable, “elitist” to refer to peers or coworkers who strive to be seen as an elite in whatever they do?

Americans seem to associate the word elite with money and well established (and often prestigious) things. The French however, seem to associate the word with power and talent.
The French think that the elite are those who have power and that through talent and working hard anyone could be elite, whereas the Americans seem to think the elite are those who have huge amounts of money (especially old money) and it is not as obtainable of a goal.
Why was “moi” and “Minorité” included in the French list? Do these words mean those who are aspiring to be elite or those who already are elite?

The students in France seem to associate the word ‘elite’ with power more so than the students in the US. I am curious to know if there are underlying reasons.

It appears that the main American connotation of the term elite relates to one’s prestige and riches/influence, whereas the French connotation relates more towards one who gained their “power” through intelligence, possibly like some government officials. The best comparison would be the Koch brothers relate to the American perspective and Obama the French.

Are the elite in France actually seen based off of merit than riches or are they connected? As in can someone be born into an elite lifestyle?

Pourquoi quelques américains associent-ils le mot Elite à “Upper East Side” et “Suburbs” ? Ça me paraît bizarre.

Upper East Side is a very expensive neighborhood in New York City that only very rich people (who are usually what we consider “elite”) can afford. Similarly, since the US doesn’t have good public transportation in a lot of places, only people who have enough money to afford a car live out in the suburbs. Also, since there is more space in the suburbs rich people will buy properties with lots of land and very large houses.

The French students are more likely to associate “elite” with “moi,” and they give elite more association with being better and superior. Americans give more mention to education when elite is being mentioned, possibly because education (University) is cheaper for French citizens in France than it is for American citizens in America.

Il est bien connu que les États-Units souffraient du racisme depuis l’époque coloniale et l’époque de l’esclavage. Pourtant, de nos jours, cela doit être dépassé. Ce qui me pousse à poser un question: pourquoi y a toujours des gens aux Etats-Unis, liant le mot “Elite” avec “White” ? ça me taraude.

Certains étudiants américains associent Elite avec University, MIT, Ivy league… Est-ce qu’il est important pour eux de sortir de ces prestigieuses universités pour avoir le sentiment d’avoir réussi?

I do not think that it is necessary to go to prestigious universities to feel a sense of achievement, yet I believe that, for some, that is their own definition of successful. With the plethora of rewarding careers available, some that don’t require schooling like MIT or an Ivy League, it is certainly possible to find the sense of achievement elsewhere. MIT and Ivy League is just one of those routes for some people.

The unfortunate truth is that there is still remnants of racism in the United States, particularly in areas of the country were slavery was once prominent. I think that there is a progressive movement away from this idea of white superiority, and to the vast majority of the people I know, this is certainly not a thought in their minds. It is a very unfortunate part of today’s society and it is a part of society that people are really working on changing because it bothers us all that there is still this notion of white people being more likely to be elite.

J’ai souvent ressenti en France une sorte de jalousie ambiante concernant les groupes élitistes. Pour illustrer mes propos, les classes préparatoires sont souvent décriées. Toutefois, c’est une telle opportunité d’y accéder que nombreux seraient prêts à tout donner pour en faire partie. C’est un peu l’hypocrisie de la situation, une majorité critique “l’élite” mais vendrait pères et mères pour y accéder.
Je pense que c’est pourquoi le terme “élite” est un peu timoré en France.

C’est sûr que ça dérange tout le monde que le racisme en générale persiste encore dans nos sociétés et/ou cultures, surtout que, de nos jours, les mouvements contre ce phénomène deviennent de plus en plus nombreux et essaient de tous leurs efforts de sensibiliser les gens à la haine et les problèmes que ça rapporte.

I don’t really understand why the word “poutine” is associated with elite on the French side, maybe my knowledge is lacking, but isn’t poutine a Quebecois dish made up of fries with cheese curds and gravy?

I don’t think in America the “elites” refer to whites due to racism, but rather due to white supremacy. White Supremacy has little to do with blatant racism and more to do with self-worth and prestige. So yes, while many groups are currently working together to rectify the institutionalized racism in our societies today, getting rid of racism (of lessening the burden, since it will probably never go away entirely) won’t magically lead to the dissolution of white supremacy, unfortunately.

It seems to me that the French, in general, seem to associate the term “elite” more with people that hold some kind of power, rather than Americans who see people as “elite” who have more money. Pushing this topic a little further, it seems like the French often see that those who are elite deserve to be elite, where americans often feel that “eliteness” can be bestowed upon someone, and it is not always earned.

@ jchambre I can only speak from my personal perspective, but I always have seen someone as “elite” if they were fortunate enough to be well educated. So I believe that many Americans see people who are accepted to upper-tier schools like Harvard, MIT, or other Ivies, which have extremely low acceptance rates as “elite” simply because they have to be the best of the best to even get in.

@ hanine As a native New Yorker I can definitely speak to why people from home see the “Upper East Side” as elite. Upper East Siders have created a culture of competition where they groom their children from a very early age to attend “elite” schools that grow them into “elite” scholars who will go on to “elite” colleges like MIT, Harvard, Yale, etc. The Upper East Side is also a very expensive neighborhood to live in, on the order of ~ 3000 euros per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Most people who live on the Upper East Side have lots of money which also gives them an air of eliteness in America. All in all, the Upper East Side, both in real-life and in popular culture has become a status of what it means to be “elite.”

I personally think that our idea of elite has more to do with social circles / networks than with actual intelligence, money, power etc. Obviously they’re very correlated, but my point is that if you go to an Ivy League school, no matter where you grew up, you now have a different network. Not too mention that if your school has a huge endowment, I think you start to be spoiled by the opportunities and resources offered, and you become accustomed to an “elite” lifestyle. You leave a top-tier college with a lot more than a diploma, you have a whole new network of people who are likely going to go on to become rich and powerful. So attending one of the top schools is desirable for a lot of reasons, and also is a way into the elite class for those who weren’t born into elite circumstances.

It is unfortunate that even though slavery and the civil rights movement ended many years ago, elite is still associated with white. This may be because white people are more likely to go to the best schools, get the best jobs, go on the nicest vacation etc. I do not think this is because white people are more elite, but I think that it is more because of all the privileges and advantages white people have over historically disadvantaged people. But I think that things are getting better, and America is the first Western country to have a black president.
Unless you are a very talented athlete, actor, or musician, the most reliable way to succeed is to earn a good education which is why certain selective higher institutions may be associated with elite.

jchambre: Although I think that being in a university like the ones you mentioned might be a great experience due to the opportunities offered since very early on (like doing research as a freshman, being offered financial support to pursue individual projects), I definitely think that graduating from one of these institutions defines being successful. I think that being successful is a very personal notion and can vary drastically from person to person. I also think that people should strive to do their best no matter where they are.

But they certainly don’t have to be at an institution like MIT, Ivy Leagues, etc. to feel successful.

@lc2017, merci beaucoup pour ta réponse. Mais, est ce que tu peux me parler plus de l’évolution historique de “Upper East Side” ?Genre les premiers habitants, l’architecture, etc. J’ai une autre question: quelle est l’histoire de la rivalité East Coast/West Coast ??


jchambre: Although I think that being in a university like the ones you mentioned might be a great experience due to the opportunities offered since very early on (like doing research as a freshman, being offered financial support to pursue individual projects), I definitely DO NOT think that graduating from one of these institutions defines being successful. I think that being successful is a very personal notion and can vary drastically from person to person. I also think that people should strive to do their best no matter where they are.

I totally agree with what lnb said above.

@hanine: The United States is so large, that it is unlikely that the culture on all parts to be the same. Different strong cultures formed on each of the coasts, because both contain huge cities and business sectors, e.g the West has Los Angeles (Hollywood) and Silicon Valley, while the East has New York City, Boston and Miami. The west coast is associated with being more laid-back. The people on each coast even speak with slightly different accents. France is a much smaller nation, but you have this sort of cultural divide in France?

chaf.madkour: I agree with your sentiments. As the movement grows in awareness and support, I’m sure things will get better.

@Fejiro Oui, en France aussi des particularités culturelles régionales. Je pense que quelque soit la taille du pays il y a toujours des groupes culturels différents qui se forment spontanément. Nous sommes actuellement au sud-ouest de la France et nous sommes très différents (d’un point de vue culturel) de ce que vous pouvez trouver à Paris ou à Marseille ( sud-est de la France).

The French students were either very defiant or very compliant. I think whether the student was defiant or compliant depended on the personality of the student. The American students were a lot more curious to find out why they were being questioned. Some American students were scared or nervous about being questioned. If I had not done anything wrong I would not feel scared about being confronted by police – I would be angry. My theory is that the American students felt scared or nervous because they had a bit of a guilty conscious. Maybe they were speeding or being too rowdy. In America there have been multiple cases with police brutality; my question for the French students is how the police behave and are there ever any issues with police using too much force?

The above comment was posted in the wrong forum.

@Fejiro ahh oui, en France aussi il y a des différences culturelles ..

il y a beaucoup de fracture culturelle même !