I've always thought that (une) peau/(un) cuir in French is like skin/leather in English. The first one referring to the living cover of a human/animal/plant body, the latter--to the product made of skin, that serves to make shoes, or handbags, or clothes.
But recently I stumbled across an exercise in which there were both cuir and peau to put in a gap, but all sentences referred to the products, not the living creatures. And indeed, my dictionary says that cuir=peau when you talk about material for gloves, for example.
My question is: what is the usage in everyday language? Cuir=dead and peau=alive, or it doesn't matter?
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