More than a fourth of the global population speaks English, making it the most common language in the world, including both native and foreign speakers. However, English has many words that it derives from other languages, such as French, Greek, and Latin. One such word is “rapport.”
The correct spelling of the word is “rapport,” which means an understanding, harmonious relationship, and it is a loanword from French. There is no such word as “repore” except as an acronym for “Report Output Retrieval System” which is a term used chiefly in governmental or military jargon and legal abbreviations.
This article will take a deeper look at the word “rapport,” its derivation and meaning, and how we use it in the English language. We’ll also delve into using foreign loanwords in English and other words related to “rapport.”
What Does Rapport Mean?
According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of “rapport” is “a friendly, harmonious relationship” (source). Thus, to “have rapport” means to have relationships with people that are close, friendly, and “in sync.”
These are relationships in which the people in them have a deep understanding of each other’s feelings and ideas, and they communicate with ease.
In other words, rapport occurs between two or more people who share many of the same thoughts and feelings. In short, people who have a rapport with one another are on the same wavelength.
What it Means to Have a Good Rapport
Rapport is the sense of connection you feel when you meet someone you like and trust and whose values you share. It is essential because it allows people to connect and build relationships with others, and rapport forms the basis of close and meaningful relationships with others.
Behavioral psychologists, diplomats, legal experts, and government officials have a particular interest in understanding how rapport functions. Behaviorists break down rapport into three behavioral components: coordination, mutual positivity, and mutual attention (source).
Rapport promotes deeper connections with others on a personal level, facilitates the development of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, and helps establish comfortable living and working environments.
Such connections play a vital role in negotiations, and good or bad rapport between negotiators can determine whether discussions are successful or not. Rapport, in this case, is based on the willingness of the people involved in the talks to cooperate, share crucial information, and make fewer threats and ultimatums.
Rapport is a two-way connection between people, requiring two people with the same feelings about each other. Anyone can build a rapport with others by adhering to a few simple rules:
- Be well-presented and have a neat appearance
- Maintain a good posture
- Be culturally appropriate
- Be well-mannered
- Smile when you greet new people
- Listen attentively and remember names and facts
- Find common ground
What Is the Origin of the Word Rapport?
Stemming from the old French verb “rapporter,” the literal translation of “rapport” is to “carry something back.” We can decipher this as people relating to each other in a way that they “send back” what they get — i.e., they have similar beliefs, feelings, thoughts, and values.
The English word “rapport” emerged during the 1660s, stemming from the French word “rapporter,” meaning “bearing,” “yield,” “produce,” “harmony,” “agreement,” and “intercourse.” It also means “to bring or carry something back / to refer to” (source).
We can trace the French word back to the Latin verb, “portare,” which means “to bring / to carry.”
The related word “report” dates back to the 14th century and was an Old French noun meaning “pronouncement or judgment.” It also stems from the word “reporter,” meaning “to tell or “to relate.”
When talking about carrying or bringing something back, as in the French word “rapporter,” it gives a sense of how people relate to each other in terms of something a person sends out and gets in return, such as behaviors, beliefs, knowledge, or values.
How Do You Use “Rapport” in a Sentence?
Here are some examples and explanations using “rapport” in a sentence. In this case, “rapport” is a noun, so it will function as a noun in a sentence. Note how there is an adjective before “rapport” that describes its quality in each of the following examples.
- The teacher has a good rapport with the children in her class.
- She has an excellent rapport with her music students.
- Comedians need to create a good rapport with the audience to be successful.
In all of the above examples, the meaning of the word “rapport” is similar — the people in each case have a good relationship with each other. As a result, there is a feeling of harmony between them, the connections are friendly, and the people are in sync with each other.
What’s Another Word for Rapport?
We can use several synonyms in English in place of “rapport” (source). There are over 600 synonyms or words and phrases with similar meaning to “rapport,” many of which convey the same general sense of harmony, agreement, and understanding between individuals or groups of people.
These include, among others:
- Mutual understanding
Some examples of synonyms for “rapport” in sentences:
|Synonym||Example of Use in a Sentence|
|communion||After a year in her job, she finally had a sense of communion with her colleagues.|
|fellowship||The new teacher was eager to form a trustful fellowship with the other teachers.|
|rapprochement||A new trade agreement highlighted a new era of rapprochement between France and the United Kingdom.|
|accord||The United States of America and North Korea reached a peace accord after months of talks.|
|kinship||After rescuing Jane from the terrorists, John began to feel a deep kinship with her.|
What Other Words Are Related to Rapport?
Several words in English are related to “rapport.” Here are the words, their meanings, and how they are used in sentences.
|Affinity||A habitual attraction to some activity or thing.||Jenna always had an affinity for nurturing animals.|
|Accord||To agree on every point.||After the divorce, she left of her own accord as promised.|
|Agreement||A harmony of opinion, action, or character.||There was widespread agreement on the issue of climate change.|
|Amity||Friendly relations between nations.||There was amity between all the countries at the G7 Summit.|
|Concord||A state of agreement, harmony||His speech broke down the last vestiges of racial concord.|
|Companionship||The fellowship that exists among companions or friends.||Their marriage was one of companionship rather than love.|
|Empathy||The act of understanding, being aware and sensitive to the feelings of another.||Sociopaths are incapable of empathy.|
|Friendliness||The state of being friendly.||Friendliness and respect go a long way when you are meeting new people.|
|Friendship||The state of being friends||Their friendship has lasted for 40 years.|
|Harmony||Internal calm||Ben lives in harmony with nature.|
|Solidarity||A unity that is based on a community of similar interests, objectives, and standards.||There must be solidarity among the people for the vote to be passed.|
|Symbiosis||A cooperative relationship between two people or groups.||There was a symbiosis between the locals and the foreigners.|
|Sympathy||Emotional or intellectual accord; the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another||She expressed her deepest sympathy to the grieving family.|
|Understanding||Comprehension; a friendly or harmonious relationship; an agreement of opinion or feeling.||They had a mutual understanding.|
|Unity||A condition of harmony||There was a sense of national unity among the crowds.|
What Is the Opposite of Rapport?
Rapport means to have a friendly and harmonious relationship with a person or group of people, so the antonym or opposite of rapport will mean a discordant or incompatible relationship. There are several antonyms — words opposite in meaning to another — for “rapport.”
|Antonym||Example of Use in a Sentence|
|Discord||My boss does not tolerate discord among workers in the office.|
|Incompatibility||The main obstacle in their marriage was their incompatibility.|
|Disagreement||We are in strong disagreement about the political situation in the USA.|
|Coldness||The new boy in class only received coldness from his fellow pupils.|
|Unfriendliness||The unfriendliness of her neighbors made her realize she had moved into the wrong apartment block.|
What Is a Bad Rapport?
To have a bad or poor rapport with someone or a group of people is similar to the antonyms above — it means the relationship between the two people or one person and the group is not harmonious or easy-going, and there is poor communication between the parties involved.
Let’s cover a few examples that illustrate the difference between good and bad rapport:
- We worked together for years and had a good rapport
- Meaning: they had an easy-going and harmonious relationship.
- Even though we had worked together for years, we had a poor rapport
- Meaning: after working together for so long, the relationship between them was poor.
- The office workers at the firm had a good/bad rapport with their boss.
- A poor rapport between the two countries led to war.
Why Confusion Exists Over Repore and Rapport
It’s all about pronunciation. The word “rapport” is a French loanword, so we pronounce it with a French accent even when we use it in the English language. The pronunciation of “rapport” is “ra-ˈpȯr” and the “t” is silent, which is a distinct characteristic of many words in the French language.
Therefore, when we pronounce it in English, the word “rapport” sounds like “repore,” which can lead to the mistaken spelling of the word.
The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) lists just one reference to “repore” compared with 2017 uses of “rapport” (source). These frequency lists capture the top 60,000 words in the corpus.
There are many other French words that we use in English that also have a silent “t,” including:
- Ballet: The girl was a beautiful ballet dancer.
- Gourmet: Michelin chefs tend to cook gourmet food.
- Ricochet: The bullet ricocheted off the wall and hit the door.
- Chalet: We stayed in a cozy chalet in the mountains.
What Are Loan Words?
Lexicographers refer to words that the speakers of one language adopt from a different language as loanwords. Linguists also refer to the process as “borrowing” words from a source language, although there is no literal exchange of words — one community that speaks a certain language simply takes words from another language (source).
The English language has many loanwords that it has “borrowed” from other languages throughout history.
Around 30% of English words come from French, some of which have evolved from French origins and some of which are French phrases borrowed directly from the French language known as cognates. Today, there are 7,000 French words in the English language that English speakers use regularly.
For example, the English language took on many Norman French words after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century AD, such as “accuse,” “archer,” “bailiff,” “chivalry,” and “quarter,” among others. In addition, the Normans introduced the “qu” spelling for the “kw” sound.
A dramatic increase in Greek scholarship during the Early Modern English Period led to the adoption of Greek “anonymous,” “catastrophe,” “comedy,” “ecstasy,” “pneumonia,” and “tonic.”
This was also a period where scholars adopted many Latin terms as loanwords. To read more on a similar topic, check out “Per Se vs. Per Say,” which deals with a borrowed phrase of Latin origin. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
After the restoration of the Monarchy in England in 1660, there was a distinct trend in adopting French words and spelling that lasted well into the 1700s. “Rapport” is one such example.
As you can see, the English language derives or sometimes simply takes many words from other languages like French, Italian, or Greek. This leads to some confusion in English regarding pronunciation and spelling, as we saw with the word “rapport.”
English language learners need to realize and recognize such words and how their pronunciation and spelling can change according to the derivation of the word.