Private French Lessons & French Tuition in Paris

Month: February 2013

English expressions with the word French

There are dozens of English expressions with the word French… but are these things actually French? Take a look at this list with the French equivalents and the literal translations – you might be surprised.

to french

1. (cooking) to cut into thin strips, to trim fat (unknown translation)
2. (kissing) see French kiss, below

French beanle haricot vert
green bean

French boxingla boxe française

French breadla baguette

French bulldogle bouledogue français

French chop
1. (cuisine) chop with the meat and fat trimmed from the end (unknown translation)
2. (juggling) tomahawk jeté de l’autre côté de la tête

French cleanersle nettoyage à sec
literally, “dry cleaning”

French cuffle poignet mousquetaire
literally, “musketeer’s cuff”

French curtainle rideau à la française

French curvele pistolet
literally, “pistol”

French custard ice creamla glace aux œufs
French diseasela maladie anglaise
literally, “English disease.” An old-fashioned term in both languages to refer to syphilis.

French doorla porte-fenêtre
literally, “window-door”

French dressingla vinaigrette
Only in England does French dressing mean vinaigrette. In the US, French dressing refers to a sweet, tomato-based salad dressing that does not, as far as I know, exist in France.

French flyune braguette à bouton de rappel
hidden button inside fly of men’s pants

French fryla (pomme de terre) frite
literally, “fried potato.” Note that French fries are actually Belgian

French ice cream – see French custard ice cream, above

French kiss
noun: un baiser avec la langue, un baiser profond
verb: embrasser avec la langue

to take French leavefiler à l’anglaise (informal)
literally, “to split/take off the English way”

French letterla capote anglaise (informal)
literally, “English condom”

French maidla femme de chambre

French manicurele French manucure
American-invented style of manicure, with light pink polish on the nail and white polish underneath

French mustardla moutarde douce
literally, “sweet mustard”

French onion soupla soupe à l’oignon
onion soup (topped with cheese and broiled)
French onion soup recipe

French pancakeune crêpe
French polishle vernis au tampon
shellac diluted with alcohol and used to produce a high gloss on wood

French poodleun caniche
literally, “poodle”

French roofun toit à la mansarde
literally, “Mansard roof”

French stickune baguette

French toastle pain perdu
literally, “lost bread”
French toast recipe

French trotterun trotteur français
breed of horse
literally, “window-door”


Are you interested by other English expressions with the word French

Speaking French also means speaking the language as a French would do, and even using French idiomatic expressions. If you are looking for tailor-made private French lessons, contact us to organize a private French lesson in Paris with on of our private French tutor.

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Greetings in French are very important and are a standard part of French etiquette and everyday life. You will never obtain anything from anyone, if you don’t say « Hello » first of all. Not to be rude say « hello » whenever  you get in lift, enter a shop, stand at a bus stop then someone will probably greet you and you should reciprocate – if you can.

If you are meeting someone in one of the above scenarios then a verbal greeting is OK. However if it is a more organized meeting such as amongst a group of friends, at work, at the school gates or a meeting with a client then you should add the handshake or kiss as well.

With a verbal greeting you should say “Bonjour” (Hello) + their title or first name if you are friends.

By title I mean Mr, Mrs, or Miss. So this might be :

(Bonjour = hello)

  • Bonjour, Monsieur (to a man)
  • Bonjour, Madame (to a lady)

The French etiquette for saying goodbye is pretty much the same.

You will use the verbal courtesies plus the handshakes and the kisses if appropriate. So you would say:

(Au revoir = goodbye, Merci = thank you)

  • Au revoir Monsieur, Madame etc. OR
  • Merci Monsieur, Madame etc.


Another tip regarding greetings in French is to avoid huging. In France, it is common that you will be greeted at the very least with a hand shake. However, in some parts of the country, particularly the south, you may find that exchanging a kiss on the cheek is common:

  • Men may greet women by a kiss on the hand (very old fashioned, only in very formal situations)
  • Men will greet each other by shaking hands. Men who are close friends may hug.
  • Women will often greet each other with a handshake or by kissing once on each cheek.
  • Men who know the woman they are greeting, may exchange a kiss on each cheek.

In many other Francophone countries, greetings that include some form of kissing on the cheek, are very common regardless of how well you know the person. However, you should never initiate kissing someone on the cheek as the social rules vary. With that said, you shouldn’t be surprised if someone you’ve only met once moves in to kiss you on the cheek and in fact if you don’t reciprocate, you will find yourself with a very awkward moment.

You wish to learn more about greetings in French ?

French à La Carte offers you the opportunity to learn more about French culture while practicing your conversational skill with one of our private French teacher in Paris. If you want to organise private french lessons in Paris, please contact us one our website.

Written by Florence Harang

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