Inquiring minds: What is bourré?

Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here are some of the most interesting ones they’ve gotten lately.

Q. What is bourré?

A.  Bourré  (pronounced boo-ray) is a card game popular among the French-speaking regions of Louisiana. Similar to the games of Spades or Euchre, it’s almost always played for money.

The task in Bourré is to take most of the tricks of a hand and thereby win the pot. Failing that, the player must strive to avoid a “bourré,” which is defined as taking no tricks at all.

Bourré is not to be confused with its close cousin of a word “bourrée.” When spelled with two final ee’s, the word refers to an old French folk dance, which was sometimes used as a musical form, most famously by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Both Bourré and bourrée are derived from a French verb, bourrer, which means “to stuff” or “to cram,” as in filling a pipe or ramming a charge home in a rifle. It’s not clear how so many and such different meanings arise from the same French root.

(New Cassell’s French  Dictionary and Internet Resources.)

Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 628-6803 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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