In Geofffey Branger's column on Europe 1, Audrey Morice from Foodwatch condemns the deception that consumers are faced with: "And in fact, behind the packaging, the product contains only 0.9% of morels, which is very little and very deceptive". Is she talking about a desire to mislead consumers, an unfair practice or misleading claims linked to a commercial practice that is a criminal offence? Or is it simply emphasising the fact that the average consumer will be disappointed because the tempting claims on the product bear no relation to the true nature of the good they thought they had bought?
Deceptive, a neologism?
Disappointing or disappointing? Deceptive seems to be a neologism and is often used for disappointing. There is no doubt that the consumer is disappointed to have been deceived.
According to the Académie françaiseDéceptif, a neologism taken from the English word deceptive, is a false friend and is wrongly given the meaning of "disappointing". In fact, deceptive means 'deceptive'.
So, neologism? Littré, however, reports that the word means "apt to disappoint", quotes Corneille in support of his definition and specifies that it comes from Latin decipere (disappoint)...
Deceptive and deceptiveness
It should be noted, however, that French law, particularly trademark law, seems to make increasing use of this adjective and of the noun "déceptivité", which is clearly equated with deceptiveness. For example, the Francis Lefevre report states the following definition of deceptiveOn the subject of a trade mark: "a trade mark is deceptive and may be declared invalid if it is likely to mislead the public, in particular by evoking an inaccurate geographical origin".
Deceptive (or disappointing), a misleading adjective
Let's not get bogged down in linguistic wrangling! If we want to talk about the psychological state in which consumers may find themselves, we'll use the simple word "disappointing". On the other hand, if we want to denounce a fraudulent commercial practice or misleading advertising, we'll prefer the adjective "trompeur" if we want to remain intelligible. But 'deceptive' seems well suited to describing the intention to mislead, particularly in the case of misleading advertising, whether or not the deception is a lie, or even an omission. And the consequence of the above is that the customer may have the legitimate feeling of having been cheated, while at the same time feeling disappointment or frustration.nnn Nevertheless, deceptive has also had its place in our language for several centuries, and rightly so!