plural cartes blanches ˈkärt(s)-ˈblänch How to pronounce carte blanche (audio) -ˈbläⁿsh How to pronounce carte blanche (audio)
: full discretionary (see discretion sense 1a) power
was given carte blanche to furnish the house

Did you know?

Carte blanche is much like a blank check. In French, carte means "document" and blanche means "blank," so the phrase means "blank document." English retained that literal meaning: a carte blanche was a blank document signed in advance by one party and given to the other with permission to fill in conditions later. Much like blank check, carte blanche also took on the extended meaning "complete freedom."

Example Sentences

We gave the decorator carte blanche to furnish the house.
Recent Examples on the Web Curated by Japanese photographer and filmmaker Mika Ninagawa, who was given carte blanche, Florae also features her own super-saturated, macro floral images, which commune with a variety of jewels from the house’s Patrimony collection, along with other contemporary designs. Jill Newman, Town & Country, 24 Sep. 2021 Joined by Laurence Fishburne (as the Morpheus-like School Master), Michelle Yeoh (largely wasted as some kind of beauty instructor) and Cate Blanchett (in voice only, as the film’s self-aware narrator), these stars have been given carte blanche to chew the scenery. Peter Debruge, Variety, 19 Oct. 2022 The coach did not promise him carte blanche to express himself. Rory Smith, New York Times, 14 Mar. 2023 When an architect is given carte blanche on a home's design, the result can be spectacular or overwhelming. Chron, 5 Feb. 2023 Bankman-Fried thus gave Alameda carte blanche to use FTX customer assets for its own trading operations and for whatever other purposes Bankman-Fried saw fit. Emily Nicolle,, 13 Dec. 2022 In this role, Prigozhin effectively has carte blanche to act within Russia and Ukraine. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 5 Dec. 2022 In 1950, Bertoia was recruited by Florence Knoll and moved to Pennsylvania, where he was given virtual carte blanche to design and experiment artistically. Dallas News, 7 Feb. 2022 Having been badly treated doesn’t give you carte blanche to treat others badly. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 11 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'carte blanche.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, literally, blank document

First Known Use

1751, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of carte blanche was in 1751


Dictionary Entries Near carte blanche

Cite this Entry

“Carte blanche.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

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