Flaunt Your Frenchness Tip #48

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.

And also…
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”.


Not used as such in French

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.

Found only in English

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!


Would you like more? Here is a good list of French expressions used in English.


parlez vous francaisIf you want to take this learning further, Société francophone de Maillardville offers French lessons (from beginner to advanced level) for adults this Summer (June to August 2016).

Click HERE to find more details.


Newsletter #48: French Expressions That You’ve Seen Before… In English

Flaunt Your Frenchness