Talk:List of French expressions in English

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Dubious introduction[edit]

The introduction claims

There are many words of French origin in English, such as art, collage, competition, force, machine, police, publicity, role, routine, table, and many others which have been and are being Anglicised.

This claim is dubious, bordering on the outright wrong: While these words may all have come to English via French, they are not all of French origin. "Art", e.g., goes back at least to Latin in the similar form "ars" (with a "t" in some conjugated forms, "ars gratia artis", whatnot), "collage" has a Greek root, "competition" is again Latin, ...

In addition, I am far from certain that these words were all even imported from French (but do not rule it out, out of hand): Other roads, e.g. German or Dutch would be conceivable, while some words may have been picked directly from Latin or Greek. (And even those who were not, may have been known in their original form among educated English speakers, as was certainly "ars".)

I would suggest a re-write to either reduce the list to words that are indisputably French or to re-phrase it to speak of words imported from French (again reduced to those who actually took that road).

In addition, it can be argued that the beginning of the introduction is superfluous, and I would not mind seeing it removed or reduced so that we jump directly to the matter of the article. Michael Eriksson (talk) 15:10, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

- - - - - Maybe the author of this introduction meant that, from a historical point of view, many common English words do come from old French, although this dates back to William the Conqueror (1066!). Indeed, I do not see what this has to do with this list, since both language have changed since then. Anyway, being French myself, I am surprised to see so many French words said to be part of common English vocabulary. I usually notice when they are used (even with an awful pronunciation, you can tell French from English :) ). Are the contributors of this page REALLY sure that all are really commonly used words? Elisheva 15:10, 29 june 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 194.167.91.193 (talk)

You are trying to explain away the civet cat while drinking kopi luwak coffee. Yes it's coffee, and yes it's also poop. 83.101.79.22 (talk)

En masse[edit]

"En masse" is a common English phrase that derives from French that is not mentioned in the article -93.97.122.93 (talk) 03:43, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Venue[edit]

These days venue is used to represent a location rather than a person, so at least add this definition? Natcarish (talk) 21:24, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

beaucoup[edit]

Sorry, I do not know how to edit the main page, but I wanted to say that "beaucoup" (in the sense of "beaucoup money") is not used only or mainly in New Orleans; it's used all across southern Louisiana (the French, i.e. Cajun/Creole part). I was born and raised in Lake Charles, LA, and it's a phrase I have used and heard used around me all my life. So please remove the emphasis on New Orleans because that really makes no sense. Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Lake Charles are just as French as NOLA. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.112.60.71 (talk) 22:10, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

Qui-vive[edit]

From the Trésors de la langue française :

Certaines des 1res attest. (cf. aussi Rec. gén. des Sotties, t. 3, p. 201) indiquent nettement la signif. de cette loc. interj. servant à demander à un inconnu de quel parti il était (A. Thomas ds Romania t. 44, p. 101 à la suite de Clédat ds Rev. de Philol. fr. et prov., t. 9, p. 233, cf. aussi M. Roques ds Romania t. 47, p. 137). L'hyp., plus conforme à la compréhension actuelle de l'expr. interprétant qui vive? « qui est là vivant? y a-t-il âme qui vive? » (A. Jeanroy ds Romania t. 37, pp. 294-296) supposerait que l'interprétation qui transparaît dans les premières attest. soit déjà le résultat d'une fausse étymologie. Fréq. abs. littér.: 53.

The definition is : "Interrogation criée par une sentinelle pour sommer toute personne de se faire reconnaître".. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.66.139.96 (talk) 17:24, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

Ordering[edit]

Alphabetical order[edit]

Make an effort to list items in alphabetical order. French has the same lexical order as English and Wikipedia does not automatically sort.

--UnicornTapestry (talk) 03:58, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Ordering of photographs[edit]

Is there any way to tag photographs so they consistently appear near the term they refer to? Many of the photographs now appear several screenfulls (many dozens of entries) away, and a couple photographs appear to refer to terms that appear to be no longer listed. Hersbruck (talk) 23:05, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Removing examples[edit]

Until we get a better definition of what this page is actually for, I think the anonymous's suggested test of "If a child asks what it means, would you say "It means X", or would you say "It's French for X" (or "It means X. It's French")" is a good one. Based on that, I would suggest removing the following:

ballet, bric-a-brac, brunette, café, charlatan, chauffeur, cliché, fiancé/e, genre, Grenadier, omelette, papier-mâché, piste, reconnaissance, renaissance, retard, reservoir, rôle (depending on whether you use the accent or not), sabotage, saboteur, silhouette.
Possibly also: bouquet, bourgeois, cache, Grand Prix, lamé. mousse, pince-nez.

Having written all those out, it occurs to me that a slightly more inclusive test would be to include words for which "it's French" would be a reasonable response to someone saying "huh - that's a funny spelling!", but even then, a lot of the above should be removed. (Unless we change this article to "English words of French origin that are spelt the same in both languages". But that would be retarded ;) ). Wardog (talk) 10:57, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

I agree, although I don't necessarily agree with all of your examples. I think if a word has an acute or grave accent, it should probably be listed, seeing as they aren't generally used in standard English. I take issue with the selection of some words based on how long they've been used in English. For example, why is "foible" listed? An (admittedly) quick web search shows that it's been in use in English since about 1640, and comes from an obsolete spelling of the French word "faible". If a word that has been used in English for almost 400 years(and isn't even used in modern French in its English spelling) is going to be in the list, we're going to have to add thousands more. English has been absorbing French words since 1066, it's ridiculous to attempt to list all of them. I tend to agree with Wardog's spelling test; i.e. if a word would be read as French by an English speaker and/or French speaker, then it should be in the list. --Phanmo (talk) 20:56, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Redirect[edit]

A redirect page to this page was tagged for speedy delete due to improper Redirection, however was sorted later. Karthik Nadar (talk) 14:55, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Additions to the page?[edit]

Is there a process of review for adding words to this page? Off the top of my head:

  • cuisine - kitchen, cooking.
  • mille feuille - literaly, "thousand leaves", a form of pastry.
  • accoutrement - fashion accessory.
  • voici - "Here is", complements "voila" - "there is".
  • c'est la guerre - that's war, typicall used to justify something outrageous that would not be acceptable in peactime.
  • duvet (pronounced slightly differently in English) (QuentinB88 (talk) 10:16, 6 August 2013 (UTC))

Old_Wombat (talk) 12:10, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Protip: Just add them next time. Not it. Noes goes. Travürsa (talk) 21:07, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

Does table d'hôte belong in section T or in the Not used as such in French section? (Je ne parle pas français.)— Robert Greer (talk) 23:22, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

It's used in French, but has a different meaning if I'm not mistaken. So it should be in the second section? (QuentinB88 (talk) 10:16, 6 August 2013 (UTC))

I agree that c'est la guerre would be a valuable addition. Possibly the others, too. However, I do not have sufficient French skills at this time to add them to the appropriate section of this article. Hersbruck (talk) 23:01, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Should be added, imo. Tony (talk) 14:36, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Quelle connerie[edit]

What a dreadful mess of an article. Nothing should be included here unless it can be attested in both English and French. Such references should be extremely easy to find in the modern age. I've taken out some of the worst crap from the A-D sections; it would be great if others could lend a hand. --John (talk) 20:35, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

I've removed around 20% of the content as flagrantly not meeting the terms of the article. The whole thing still seems a little WP:OR to me with so few references. --John (talk) 06:47, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

False Redirect: In Lieu[edit]

Typing "in lieu" in the search bar took me to this page, yet this page doesn't even have this example. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.227.7.35 (talk) 19:30, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

It's a hybrid phrase, part English and part French, so I'm not sure if it is within the scope of the list, but I've been bold and added it. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:38, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

File:HortaELWI.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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à la mode[edit]

I don't think that "à la mode" has to mean "trendy" when used in French--it could mean the same as the literal (?) translation, as in the Norman tripe dish, Tripes à la mode de Caen. Yes?--Hjal (talk) 05:05, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

It's sometimes used for food like you said, but also used in a more literal way to simply say something (usually clothing) is trendy. "C'est très à la mode!" means it's very trendy, and it's a very common sentence. (QuentinB88 (talk) 10:23, 6 August 2013 (UTC))

As of September 2014, this phrase is listed in the section "Used in English and French" and also in the section "Not used as such in French". The two overlapping entries should be consolidated into a single listing. Reify-tech (talk) 19:36, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

eau de cologne[edit]

'Cologne at that time being under the control of France.' If this means direct political control, it's wrong. Cultural, economic and political ties were strong, and French had become the lingua franca in large parts of Europe. But, at that time, the city was as much under French control as it is now under American control. 130.83.197.163 (talk) 07:48, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

Coup d'état[edit]

Coup d'état should be added, it's French for a blow/strike to the State/Government.

When a government gets overthrown...any thoughts? Cboy619 (talk) 13:03, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

Agree! I first heard the expression in an history lesson at prep' school.
-- Gareth Griffith-Jones (talk) 13:18, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
What a mess of an article this is! It seems you are not supposed to make an addition if the term is included in another section of the article. For instance, Coup d'état is already in the section labelled, "Not used as such in French". Another IP has reverted the editing by 64.128.214.129 (talk), which I reinstated, only to have it reverted, again by the same IP.
This article is not 'user-friendly' and needs a major overhaul.
Sincerely, -- Gareth Griffith-Jones (talk) 14:08, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
Oh! I didn't see that down there, thanks for clarifying/ correcting...should've known that was somewhere in the article. Cboy619 (talk)14:51, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
My pleasure. Good editing! Gareth Griffith-Jones (GG-J's Talk page) 20:03, 30 August 2012 (UTC)

Gendarmes[edit]

I see from the discussion that there has been quite a bit of discussion about including and removing words. I don't know of **gendarmes** was ever on the list and got the chop at some point, but if that is the case, a photo of **gendarmes** was left in the article. regards, Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 19:04, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Not just English - chacun à son goût[edit]

The expression chacun à son goût  is not used only in English, e.g., it is the title of a song in Franz Lehár's Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow). Should the text of Not used as such in French; be more general? Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 13:57, 28 October 2012 (UTC)

Category:French loanwords[edit]

Category:French loanwords was taken to CFD, and the result was essentially "delete after putting it into a list". The list is now at Talk:List of French words and phrases used by English speakers/French loanwords; please go there to improve it. Nyttend (talk) 01:29, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Marquee[edit]

Is "marquee" reaaly derived from marquise? Because "marquée" in French (also) means "written" which makes sense in this context... — Preceding unsigned comment added by 78.231.133.165 (talk) 20:02, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

my contribution[edit]

As a frenchman living in the US, I made a few changes:

- added: amateur, boulevard, chateau, chef, cordon bleu, cuisine

- removed: haute cuisine, nouvelle cuisine

Thanks, Damien

edit: i'm new to this site, can someone tell me why 2 days after half of the words I added were removed????? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 192.195.66.2 (talk) 18:51, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

Probably because several of them (amateur, boulevard, chef) have been considered standard English words for quite some time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Phanmo (talkcontribs) 12:32, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

About the page's recent renaming[edit]

If "avant la lettre" is an expression, a phrase, on the other hand "baguette" is a word, a term. Since the page contains a list of both French terms and phrases used by English speakers, I don't see why "expressions", ie phrases, should be substituted for "terms and phrases". The title should be "List of French terms and phrases in English". --Elnon (talk) 07:44, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Hi. The Free Dictionary defines expression as "5. A particular word or phrase". The current title is fine, by this definition. But if a renaming is agreed upon, I just ask to also do the same for the German list, so as to keep a standard. —capmo (talk) 17:40, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Dead-end redirect.[edit]

The phrase "quel dommage" redirects to this page, but is not found in this article. Authors, please restrain yourselves from redirecting when doing so provides no pay-off by ignoring the information sought. Thank you, Wordreader (talk) 15:19, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

Definition of ennui is weak.[edit]

To say that ennui means boredom (as in: "Mom! The battery in the TV clicker is dead! I'm bored!!!) is a weak and incomplete definition. It's far more complex an idea. The definition on the ennui page strikes closer to the mark:

"A gripping listlessness or melancholia caused by boredom; depression."

But on the citation page for the word, the meaning that encompasses the draining melancholia, a soul-deep emptiness, and the inability to connect to life is underscored:

1990 — Terry Pratchett, Eric, p 165

   Now and again screams of ennui rose from between the potted plants, but mainly there was the terrible numbing silence of the human brain being reduced to cream cheese from the inside out."

1997 — Terrance Dicks, The Eight Doctors, p 256

   It was also known as ennui, the megrims, the blues, or the black dog. But whatever the name, the symptoms were always the same: listlessness, boredom, a sense that life was ultimately meaningless and futile, without point or purpose.

Thank you, Wordreader (talk) 15:56, 16 November 2014 (UTC)

That was a fast consensus! Thank you, Reify-tech, Wordreader (talk) 04:44, 18 November 2014 (UTC)


Corrected Entree[edit]

Entree evolving to mean the main dish in a meal instead of the first dish is an Americanism. Elsewhere in the English speaking world it retains its French meaning of the first or starter dish. I've corrected the entry to reflect this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 110.32.105.112 (talk) 02:37, 31 December 2014 (UTC) That may be original research. The "main dish" usage is common in Scotland. Almonaster (talk) 06:08, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

cinq à sept[edit]

Extraconjugal affair between five and seven pm. In French, though it can also mean this, it primarily means any relaxing time with friends between the end of work and the beginning of the marital obligations. As a French native speaker (and deep lover of French language, for that matter), I respectfully disagree: no one in France would ever use/understand it otherwise than in the "extraconjugal affair" meaning.--78.249.192.37 (talk) 02:01, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

Canapé[edit]

Added. From the discussion above, I think this belongs in, but others may disagree. What I'm not sure of is whether the term is used in the same sense in French. It is also used as a technical term in the game of bridge, but I didn't think that usage was sufficiently notable for inclusion.Almonaster (talk) 06:08, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Outdated redirects[edit]

Here is a list of redirects to this page from terms that aren't mentioned in the article (from here):

Any ideas how this should be handled? If any of them are worth mentioning again the article they should be, or else alternate redirect targets will have to be found or the redirect deleted. Opencooper (talk) 13:30, 13 May 2016 (UTC)

"Adieu"[edit]

This has been a legitimate English word for centuries. Read the opening sentences of the lead. This article is NOT about English words of French origin (if it was it would cover half the language for heaven's sake. -Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:36, 19 June 2016 (UTC)

I believe 'adieu' does belong in this list for a few reasons:
  • the word still retains a strong 'french' character. It still looks odd as an english word.
  • people still have a hard time pronouncing it, or asking how to pronouce it, indicating that they recognize it as a french word, unlike 'table', 'competition' or 'art'.
  • it still hasn't been englicized like the words money (from monnaie), beef (from boeuf) or mutton (from mouton).
  • the fact that it has been part of the english vocabulary for centuries is irrelevant. it is still perceived as a foreign word by most people.
I believe that the revert by user:Compassionate727 was an improvement, and your addition of the awkward and ambiguous phrase "A few of them were never "good" French in the first place" wasn't. Dhrm77 (talk) 12:18, 20 June 2016 (UTC)
Bump. Dhrm77 has accurately articulated my same thoughts, for which I was lacking words earlier. —Compassionate727 (T·C) 12:59, 20 June 2016 (UTC)
I agree with Compassionate727 that the word should be included. Opencooper (talk) 23:28, 20 June 2016 (UTC)
  • It has a "normal" English plural (as in "I made my adieus to everyone")
  • It has a "normal" English pronunciation ("add you") - one occasionally hears "add yer" - this is widely regarded as an ignorant affectation, and in any case is nearly as far from the proper French
  • It is common in popular songs (going back to eighteenth century London street ballads) - almost always rhymed with "you" or "blue", or "(un)true" - the (Websters) dictionary gives its modern use as "formal /literary" but even that does not make it any more "French".
  • If it has become a little less common in daily speech, or if is more common outside the United States this does NOT make it one whit more "foreign" much less specifically "French" (in the sense of this article)
  • Most people I know are certainly aware of its French origin (especially if they happen to have a little French from their high school days) BUT that in itself is quite beside the point - there are literally thousands of words in this category. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 01:12, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
If the "ambiguous phrase" (it's actually a short sentence) "A few of them were never "good" French in the first place" wasn't clear, or unambiguous - then rewriting it to be clearer rather than deleting it would be the way to go? Or am I incorrectly assuming "common sense"? --Soundofmusicals (talk) 01:35, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
To the second comment, yes, but I personally am not sure what the writer means by it. —Compassionate727 (T·C) 18:44, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
Are you serious? I have always assumed that it got reverted in the first place primarily because you wanted to put "adieu" back in and they were on the same edit. Sorry if I was wrong and there is genuine confusion here. But to assume good faith, which I should have done in the first place perhaps.
Read in total isolation we may be confused about what "they" are ("French phrases") but in the context of the other sentences of the paragraph the pronoun suffices, surely it is plain enough. "French" is (or used to be) considered much more sophisticated than English, and people who wanted to impress with their sophistication would lard their speech with what they imagined was French but sometimes wasn't really at all, or was French, but actually didn't mean what the ignorant English speaker imagined it did. Or (the point of the sentence in question) was French, of a sort, but not "good" French (containing basic grammatical errors, for instance). As I keep saying - if the sentence seems ambiguous or out of place then by all means rewrite it! We don't delete articles (or sections, paragraphs or sentences) because we don't understand them (on those grounds there are many articles I would delete altogether because they are right over my head!) Generally, it is bad policy to edit anything you don't understand - I leave such articles (for me, they are legion) well alone - unless I need to consult them to improve my own (very patchy) knowledge. There are other editors out there who know more than I (or you!) do about all kinds of things - otherwise, obviously, Wikipedia wouldn't work at all. -Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:54, 21 June 2016 (UTC)
Okay, that was my confusion. I wasn't sure if "not good" meant incorrect, profane, obscure, or some other thing. —Compassionate727 (T·C) 14:57, 23 June 2016 (UTC)
A bit of all of those things, at times, but mainly grammatically incorrect, or poor idiom, or just "not how a Frenchman would put it". Same things as when we talk about "bad" English. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 00:18, 24 June 2016 (UTC)

NOT a dictionary of "French words in English"[edit]

If we are to have a list like this in Wikipedia at all (and I sometimes have my doubts - it MUST be restricted to "French" words and phrases that are sometimes used by English speakers (usually instead of a perfectly good English one really, but that is another question. If you wanted to include English words with a French origin you'd have the equivalent of a very thick dictionary indeed - nearly half of the vocabulary of English is derived from French at some level. Please read the lead paragraphs to the article BEFORE adding examples of English that you have just realised are the same, or spelled the same, or even vaguely resemble French words, or what you imagine are French words. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 12:37, 29 December 2016 (UTC)

Actually this list is riddled with quite ordinary English words that need to be wiped!! I have picked up a few - but someone really needs to go right through! Soundofmusicals (talk) 01:13, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

Aide-de-camp[edit]

This example appears in the "Used in English and French" and "Found only in English." I am unfamiliar with french expressions so I don't know which instance needs to be removed.24.224.230.47 (talk) 17:33, 2 March 2017 (UTC)