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A Guide to the French Words in English

When there is cultural contact between languages, borrowing words, also known as loanwords, may occur. The French language influenced English significantly over the years. There are many English words in art, cuisine, science, and more that look or sound just like French.

5-Minute Crafts rounded up some French words you may use in your everyday English, whether you are aware of it or not.

1. À la carte

“À la carte” means ’’from the menu; picking separate or individual dishes or foods from a menu in a restaurant instead of having a complete meal.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’I’d like to order à la carte.’’

2. Dandelion

Dandelion means ’’dent-de-lion; the lion’s tooth due to the outline of its leaves.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: “Dandelion greens can be eaten cooked or raw.”

3. Denim

Denim means ’’de Nîmes, from Nîmes," which is derived from “serge de Nîmes.Nîmes is one of the southern cities in France, and serge is a sturdy fabric.

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’Denim entered into mainstream culture in the 1950s.’’

4. Au pair

“Au pair” means ’’on a par, equal to," or “on even terms,” which refers to the helpers coming from overseas or foreign countries to take care of the children and feel equal to the other family members.

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’We got a German au pair for 6 months.’’

5. Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur means ’’an individual who creates and/or invests in one or more businesses and undertakes the risk in one or multiple businesses." It was derived from the French word, “entreprendre,” which means “to undertake.”

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’An entrepreneur is more than just a risk-taker. He is a visionary.’’

6. Concierge

“Concierge” means ’’count of candles," which is derived from the Comte des Cierges, referring to the candle holders. Today, concierge means "an employee or a caretaker, doorkeeper of a hotel, apartment, house, etc.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’The concierge was in charge of helping hotel guests.’’

7. Cul-de-sac

“Cul-de-sac” means ’’a road or a street that is closed off at one end; it’s a dead end." It was derived from “cul” (bottom), “de” (of a), and “sac” (bag). In French, however, dead-end means "impasse.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’The vehicle was placed right at the end of a cul-de-sac.’’

8. Déjà vu

“Déjà vu” means ’’already seen, having re-seen, or experienced before; an instance that may have never actually happened.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’I entered the room and immediately felt a sense of déjà vu.’’

9. Façade

Façade means ’’the front of a building (frontage) or the superficial appearance; it can also be written as the facade.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’The facade of the building was a little weathered.’’

10. Hors d’oeuvre

“Hors d’oeuvre” means ’’a dish served before a meal to support the main course, or the various savory foods served as appetizers.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’Soft drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served during the reception.’’

11. En route

“En route” means ’’on or along the way or on the road," which is usually used as an adverb.

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’If you find yourself en route to the airport sans sunscreen, head here.’’

12. Faux pas

“Faux pas” means ’’a misstep, false step, mistake, failure, error, etc.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’Arriving too early would be a serious faux pas.’’

13. R.S.V.P.

R.S.V.P.” means ’’Répondez s’il vous plaît," which literally translates to “If you please, respond,” or just “Respond, please.” It’s used to respond to an invitation.

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’You can even check who else has RSVP’d to attend.’’

14. Souvenir

“Souvenir” means ’’remember or recall; to remind you of something or any old memory.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’Give up trying to buy a souvenir shirt.’’

15. Avant-garde

“Avant-garde” means ’’original or modern ideas, styles, or methods that develop experimental or new concepts." While “avant” translates to “before,” and “guard” (garder) translates to "keep or save.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’He had no time for high avant-garde art.’’

16. Fiancé

“Fiancé” (for male) and “fiancée” (for female) means ’’the person who you will marry.’’

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’Have you met Christina’s fiancé?’’

17. Trespass

“Trespass” means ’’to go into a place without permission, or illegally which is against the moral law." A trespasser is a person who does trespassing.

🔸In a sentence, you can use it as: ’’I didn’t realize I was trespassing on their land.’’

Preview photo credit Depositphotos.com, Depositphotos.com
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