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Le, pronounced luh or lay in English, is the masculine singular definite article of the French-language. Due to the widespread perception of le as being stereotypical of the language, it is often used by English speakers to Francize expressions or to mock sophistication in general. In rage comics, le serves as a preface to a word or sentence signifying an action, or in substitute of the.
Narrator: Then France is like "shit guys, the missiles are coming, fire our shit!
But I am le tired… Well. Then. Have a nap. THEN FIRE ZE MISSILES!
The first Urban Dictionary entry detailing the humorous usage of le was uploaded by user ricemond on Dec 4th, 2003.. Tracing the origin of its use in Rage Comics is diffiult, but it likely originated with one of the two following comics posted on Reddit sometime in 2009.
Le is the most commonly-used word in the French language and as such, it is commonly associtated with French by non-francophones. An early example of the use of le in the English language was the marketing of the French-made Renault 5 as “Le Car” in North America.
In 1998, Le Car was referenced in an episode of Seinfeld titled The Dealership. In warning Jerry of the dangers of car dealerships, George recounts how his father was “duped” into buying a Le Car:
My father had a car salesman buddy. He was gonna fix him up real nice. Next thing I know, I’m gettin’ dropped of in a Le Car with a fabric sunroof. All the kids are shoutin’ at me, “Hey, Le George! Bonjour, Le George! Let’s stuff Le George in Le Locker!”
Throughout 2010, usage of “le” in rage comics grew rapidly on Reddit and 9gag, taking on a meaning of pretentiousness and haughtiness. Soon, the phenomenon began drawing criticisms" for its indiscriminate usage by less experienced contributors to the extent of becoming a self-parody (as shown below).
Le X Face
In 2011, 4chan users began submitting a variety of falsely-named illustrated in the style of rage comics in an attempt to bait newcomers into adopting them as genuine practice. One of the better known instances (shown below, top left) features a vectorized version of the Rustled Jimmies gorilla, with caption reading Le Monkey Face. This particular instance has seen significant spread in its own right, while the “Le X Face” trend has grown beyond it.
The “Le (X) Face” snowclone has also been applied to the ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) emoticon, giving it the name “le lenny face.” Similarly, the facial expressions commonly associated with Dreamworks movies have been referred to as “le dreamworks face”.