Rendez-Vous #48: French Expressions That You’ve Seen Before… In English
You’ve been a natural French speaker all your life! English contains many words of French origin, and many other anglicized French words. Actually, around 45% of English vocabulary is estimated to be of French origin. Here are a few of them. Enjoy!
Used in English and French
Déjà vu: “already seen” is the English translation of the French phrase with which we associate that weird feeling of reliving the same past experience.
In French-speaking countries you’ll hear this word on an daily basis, because it’s used to express “having re-seen” a person, place or things, not in another life or dimension. In other words, it’s a factual encounter.
Some examples here.
Coup de foudre: lit. “strike of thunder”
Cul-de-sac: lit. “bottom of the bag” More explanation here.
Faux pas: lit. “wrong step”.
Matinee: lit. “morning”. More here.
Potpourri: lit. “rotten pot”. More explanation here.
R.S.V.P: Répondez S’il Vous Plaît lit. “Respond If It Pleases You”.
Encore: A request to repeat a performance, as in Encore!, lit. ‘again’; also used to describe additional songs played at the end of a gig. Francophones would say «Une autre !» (‘Another one!’) or « Bis ! » to request «un rappel » or « un bis ». More here.
Hors d’œuvre: A French phrase that gets our appetite going, screaming lavish parties and cocktail hour! “Out of work” is the literal translation, hors(out) d’œuvre (of work). Historical context: Hors d’œuvre were served before/”out” of the main course or “work” of art (by the chef) and thus, hors d’œuvre was born. More here.
Double entendre: We all know this figure of speech wherein a word or phrases can be taken to have two distinct coherent meanings, most often in a fashion that is suggestive and/or ironic.
“Entendre” is an infinitive verb (“to hear”), not a noun; a correct rendering would be “à double entente“, an adjectival phrase meaning “of a double understanding or double interpretation” (literally, “with a double hearing”). The modern French phrase is “à double sens“.
Wish to hear how it sounds like in French? Acapela is your hero!
Click HERE to find more details.
Newsletter #48: French Expressions That You’ve Seen Before… In English