Carte Blanche

Meanings of “Carte Blanche”

The phrase “carte blanche” means full freedom or having the freedom to take whatever course of action. In the gothic or romantic genre, the phrase is widely used for the invitation to a woman to be his mistress.

Origin of “Carte Blanche”

The phrase “carte blanche” is of French origin that means “white or blank paper” while in military terms it is used for surrender. Its first recorded use is traced to Hearne Collection published in 1707 by Raby where it goes thus; “Who sent Chart Blanch to make a Peace.”

However, in its original meanings, it was used by Addison in his popular magazine, The Spectator, in its publication of 1712 where it goes thus: I threw her a Carte Blanche.”

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Carte Blanche by Jonathan Elliot

I found hope at the end of a bottle
I fear how imprudent that seems
A phase when I was Incorrigible
Thinking I knew what’s best for me

I found hope at the end of a bottle
That tranquil place, where thoughts are lost
Know that happiness, is ephemeral
A candid soul can see the costs

I left lies at the end of that bottle
Finding real joy by purer means
The sweetest music or natural chortle
Simple pleasures replaced one’s needs

I unearthed bliss in an array of forms
Through loyal friends with heartfelt words
To a stranger’s smile, that leaves my heart warm
We can be happy if we learn

The lesson I entreat, is love this world.

The poem presents the personal dilemma of the poet in which he records his thoughts on how he finds himself, incorrigible soul, always hoping to stay in his limits. However, by free thoughts, the poet finds that happiness is ephemeral and a person can find it if he has the freedom or makes his mind free to roam around and find the happiness that is there in “an array of forms.” The phrase has not been used in the poem but its meanings become clear as the title of the poem suggests.

Example #2

Carte Blanche by Teena Marie

You can take possession of my body
I’ll give you the full authority
Call me on my unrestricted number if you like
If you want some company
I’m gon leave it up to your discretion
‘Cause it seems I’ve finally found my time
And if you wanna play with my affection
Then call me on my private line

Carte blanche, baby
And this story you write
I’m gonna sign for you baby
You’ve got carte blanche, baby
You’re really bossy I know
But I love when you take control

The above lyrics talk about the singer, who feels free and wants to call her lover. She desires to have full freedom to love the singer. She informs him that she grants this carte blanch to him to call her at any time to her as she says, “You’ve got carte blanche.” The phrase has been used two times similar meanings.

Example #3

From In a Strange City by Laura Lippman

“I can’t make promises about the future,” Rainer said. “I mean, what if she continues to interfere with police business? You want like, carte blanche for things she hasn’t even done yet?”

Carte blanche? In Rainer’s mouth it sounded like one those freestanding stalls in a shopping mall, run by woman named Blanche. Oh, Carte Blanche, a blank check.

Taken from In a Strange City by Laura Lippman, these lines shed light on the narrator’s view about Rainer who mentions that his beloved would have carte blanche. Here they are talking about the investigation freedom, whose surname also matches to the second word of the phrase. Miss Blanche is probably interfering in the police investigation or is a person of interest.

Example #4

Carte Blanche The Stories Behind the Stories by Jessica Pitchford

This book presents the stories from which literary stories and reportages are made by the journalists. Pitchford, a journalist, and producer, has measured the mood of the nation during the great moments in national history. The stories, woven around great characters of the silver screen and games, present the unforgettable experience of the freedom of thought and expression that these people enjoy. That is why the book has been titled with the phrase which presents different shades of meanings through stories behind stories.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “The person in question has carte blanch to treat his subordinates.”

Example #2: “Theresa was given carte blanche by her father but that does not mean she has natural freedom; it was only around the house.

Example #3: “Celebrities live a carte blanche life and a few falls into addictions and ruin their career.

Example #4: “The interior designer was given carte blanche without any limitations to decorate the palace.”

Example #5: “How wonderful it is to have a carte blanche when you go to a restaurant and enjoy ala-carte at all-you-can-eat buffet price!”