Ten French words that Anglophones use to "make chic"


There are English words, let's face it, that are irreplaceable today. Indeed, who would have the idea to replace "weekend" with "weekend"? "Penalty" by "shot of repair"? "Starting blocks" with "starting blocks"?

However, is it really useful to speak "juicing", "jogging", "souping" …? Anglicisms multiply. "Forwarder", "checker", "liker" … And, obviously, do not enrich the language of Moliere. Rest assured, however! Many words and expressions are used by English speakers. do you know them? Le Figaro invite you to discover it.

»READ ALSO – Pub, business, politics: the triumph of franglais


As we can read in the Collins Online Dictionary, "Natural" is used to talk about naked people. The expression also has a second meaning: a simple or raw dish.

In French, the phrase "Natural" means first "Without primers"as the CNRTL specifies. Figuratively, he defines what is "Without pageantry, without ceremony". Finally, it can also characterize someone's nudity. A person "Natural" is, indeed, "in the state of nature… that is, undressed.


In English, the word "A woman's light dressing gown, typically made of a filmy, soft fabric". That is to say: "The robe of a woman, made of a fine fabric and silk". What would be called "Nightie" in French.

It is true, this definition departs from the first meaning we give to the adjective, that is to say: "Less cured than necessary or desirable". However, it is interesting that by metonymy, "A neglected" can also characterize in French a "Light and no-seek outfit that is usually worn in privacy", as the Treasury of the French language specifies. So can we read in Étienne de Jouy's: "On the way back from the Bois de Boulogne, the young men in their riding-dress, and the neglected ladies, come to wait for their toilet time.", (The hermit of the Chaussee d'Antin).


Here is an expression that has the wind in its sails, especially in the United States. Exclamation usually occurs during an exchange, often heated, a debate or a slight quarrel. It works to recognize the relevance of the argument of a partner or an opponent. Originally, it was used to record the success of a shot in fencing.


"Risky performance, how, joke, etc. is a little shocking, we read on the site of Oxford Dictionary. So we learn that in English, a commentary or a joke can be qualified as "Risky" when the substance of the subject is sulphurous, scabrous, even shocking. A meaning that can also be found in French even if the first definition of the adjective "risk" means first what is "Bold, risky, perilous".

READ ALSO – Anthony Lacoudre: "French has literally invaded the English language"

Joy of living

"A feeling of great happiness and enjoyment of life"reads the Cambridge Dictionary. Indeed, the "Joy of life" is a "Feeling of general well-being, complete happiness that comes from the simple fact of existing"as defined by The Treasury of the French Language. Latin gaudia, "joy" originally means "Contentment, ease, pleasure; pleasure of the senses, pleasure.

As an example, these few lines of Gautier: "It was (in the Wedding at Cana) to show strength, health, and the joy of living in radiant faces, free from worry, and sturdily beautiful bodies", (The Louvre museum).

Coup de grace

"Her affair was the coup de grace to her disintegrating marriage", proposes the Cambridge Dictionary. The expression is known. Figuratively, it means: to finish someone, to cause his loss, to execute him.

Literally, "The coup de grace was given to the victims on the wheel", says Daniel Appriou in his work Historical expressions, from Damocles to Artaban. "The executioner broke the bones by hitting them with a metal bar. To put an end to the suffering, he finally gave a final blow to the chest. "

»READ ALSO – These Anglicisms that we do not want to hear any more

Nice spirit

There are many expressions to include the term"mind" taken in the sense of "way to be". So are we talking about a "state of mind", from "presence of mind", a "Spirit form", to "get into the spirit of something,""keep in mind". We can also evoke a "Mediocre spirit" or "high", "Shabby" or "superior", a "Right mind" or one "simple minded".

Anglophones chose to keep the formula one "Nice spirit" : "A witty or clever person". Understand: a person of fine mind, subtle, clever, intelligent. In French, the definition is a little more precise. Indeed, we notice a beautiful spirit at the "Finesse and the distinction of his intelligence combined with his culture of belles-lettres". Wanting "To make the beautiful spirit", one seeks with affectation to "to appear brilliant, spiritual". Note that this last formula is pejorative.


As we can read in the Collins Dictionary, "An aperitif is an alcoholic drink that you have before a meal". Namely: a glass of alcohol that you swallow before eating. The Tresor de la langue francaise gives the same definition: "Generally alcoholic drink, reputed stimulant for the appetite". But originally, the term is medical and means: "Which facilitates the secretions of the digestive system". Thus, an "aperitif" may be an herbal tea, a pill or a plant.

We find a first occurrence of this word from the thirteenth century. An aperitif "Opens the ways of elimination" (The book of simple medicine) as the TLFI reminds us. It was not until the mid-eighteenth century that the word took on a different meaning: "Which opens the appetite". So, "Black pepper and white pepper are aperitive … help digestion, give appetite".


Just like in French, a "Cordon bleu" means in English a very good cook. Before belonging to the field of gastronomy, the expression was used under the Old Regime, to qualify a prestigious decoration. Notably the badge of the Knights of the Holy Spirit, an order created by King Henry III in the late sixteenth century."The elitist distinction has been proposed only to a few people who were called '' blue cords ''", says Georges Planelles in his work The 1001 favorite expressions of the French.


Pretty expression that English speakers have borrowed to qualify "The most important reason for somebody's / something's existence", reads the Oxford Dictionary. According to the Tresor de la langue francaise, the formula can be understood in two ways: if "to be" has the meaning of "to live", then it "Concerns more particularly the man". Example: "His children are his reason for being".

If, on the other hand, "to be" has the meaning of"To exist, to be there, to be there, at that time", then the expression refers to the "Function, definition of a thing". Example given by the thesaurus: "Money has also been a victim of paper money: the establishment of convertible banknotes, along with the gold coin, has made silver money lose its raison d'etre."

See also: Bernard Minier faces the Dictee du Figaro

Bernard Minier faces the Dictee du Figaro – Watch on Figaro Live

You can also follow Figaro French language on Twitter.
»Ask all your questions about the French language with our Forum.
»Find our French language section on The Figaro Store.

Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here