Beyoncé Added to French Encyclopedic Dictionary List of Definitions


On “Alien Superstar,” Beyoncé runs through a couple of definitions of who she is, “I’m one of one, I’m number one, I’m the only one,” and “Category: bad bitch, I’m the bar” among them. Following her lead, the French encyclopedic dictionary Petit Larousse Illustré has added the musician’s name as a proper noun in its 2024 update.

The dictionary defines Beyoncé as an “American singer of R&B and pop.” Her name appears among a list of 40 international personalities to be added to the issue in a batch that included more than 150 new entires. Cate Blanchett, LeBron James, and Christopher Nolan are also among the new names in the book.

In an interview with Le Point, Larousse’s head of dictionaries and encyclopedias Carine Girac-Marinier explained that the entires “reflect concerns, developments or strong movements this year,” as well as “values of the Petit Larousse — excellence and promotion of French culture.”

Beyoncé’s name also has a French origin. Her mother, Tina Knowles, gave the singer her maiden name to keep some semblance of her family name alive. “My name was Celestine Beyoncé,” Knowles explained on In My Head with Heather Thomson in 2020. “I asked my mother when I was grown. I was like, ‘Why is my brother’s name spelled B-E-Y-I-N-C-E?’ You know, it’s all these different spellings. And my mom’s reply to me was like, ‘That’s what they put on your birth certificate.’”


She added: “So I said, ‘Well, why didn’t you argue and make them correct it?’ And she said, ‘I did one time. The first time, and I was told ‘Be happy that you’re getting a birth certificate’ because, at one time, Black people didn’t get birth certificates.”

Back in 2004, Knowles relayed a version of this origin story to Rolling Stone, explaining that her grandfather Lumis Beyince — a Creole who lived in New Orleans and spoke French — was less than impressed about the change. “My family was not happy,” she said at the time. “My dad said, ‘She’s gonna be really mad at you, because that’s a last name.’ And I’m like, ‘It’s not a last name to anybody but you guys.’”

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