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How To Pronounce 60 French Words Used In English

How To Pronounce 60 French Words Used In English

In today’s lesson we’ll have a look at a list of 60 French words used in English. Actually, a very large percentage of English words are of French origin. When I first wrote this post in 2012 I came up with this list by simply thinking of which French words I’d personally use. I used my own voice for the audio in this post. I’m not a native speaker but my accent is pretty much “there”!

Listen to the podcast of this lesson.

60 French words used in English

English words of French origin

  1. à la – To the/in the manner of
  2. à la carte – Restaurant menu items sold separately or individually usually in smaller portions.
  3. à la mode – Refers to serving a desert with ice cream, eg “apple pie à la mode.
  4. à propos – regarding/concerning
  5. adieu – good-bye or farewell
  6. amuse-bouche – Small bite-size hors d’œuvre
  7. apéritif – A drink taken before a meal, usually alcoholic
  8. au jus – Culinary term referring to serving a dish with sauce
  9. blasé – Not being impressed due to over-familiarity
  10. bon appétit – “Enjoy your meal” – said before eating
  11. bon vivant – Somebody who enjoys their life
  12. boy voyage – Enjoy your trip!
  13. bourgeois – Preoccupied with material values and class rank or status
  14. brunette – Usually refers to a female with brown hair
  15. café – A coffee house
  16. café au lait – Coffee with milk
  17. chic – Stylish, in fashion
  18. cliché – A saying that is used to often
  19. clique – A tight or exclusive group – pronounced “Click” in English.
  20. crèche – Nativity scene for christmas
  21. crème brûlée – Desert with custard and caramelized sugar
  22. crème de la crème – Best of the best
  23. critique – An analysis of one’s work
  24. cul-de-sac – dead-end street
  25. décor – Referring to home decorating
  26. déjà vu – Literally “already seen” but refers to situations that seem like they’ve happened before.
  27. dossier – A file containing information about a person
  28. eau de toilette – Aromatic splashing water used after bathing; a mild perfume or cologne
  29. eau de vie – Whiskey, brandy or other strong alcoholic beverages.
  30. en garde – “Take your guard” – said in the sport of fencing.
  31. entre nous – Between us…
  32. entrée – The main dish of a meal (US) or the first course of a meal (UK)
  33. façade – A fake persona or false impressions
  34. faux – Adjective for fake, eg faux fur for fake fur
  35. faux pas – Something one must not do in order to remain polite
  36. femme fatale – A seductrice harboring bad intentions.
  37. fiancé/e – A woman or man who will be married.
  38. gaffe – Stupid mistake or blunder
  39. genre – Type or kind
  40. haute cuisine – High-end or gourmet cooking
  41. hors d’œuvre – Appetizer
  42. joie de vivre – Joy of living
  43. laissez-faire – Political philosophy referring to non-interference
  44. malaise – Sickness or not feeling comfortable
  45. Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday, annual festival celebrated in New Orleans.
  46. milieu – Social environment
  47. né, née – Born, used in writing when referring to a woman’s maiden name.
  48. nouveau riche – Refers to people who have recently become wealthy but were previously poor.
  49. panache – Flamboyance
  50. par avion – Air mail
  51. prêt-à-porter – Ready to wear
  52. raison d’être – Reason or purpose for existing
  53. rapprochement – Diplomatic term for two states or bodies moving towards each other
  54. renaissance – Literally “rebirth” – Refers to 14-17th century Europe
  55. savant – Knowing or brilliant – often used in relation to those with Autism.
  56. soirée – Refers to an evening party
  57. soupe du jour – Soup of the day.
  58. tête-à-tête – Literally “head-to-head” – Refers to two people facing offer in a close debate.
  59. vinaigrette – Oil and vinegar salad dressing
  60. vis-à-vis – Comparing one thing in relation to another

English loan words from French

Following hundreds of years of wars between France and England, the history of the English borrowing words from the French langauge is long and extensive. I am not an expert in this area of loan words. If you’d like to develop your knowledge, have a look at Princeton University’s Émigrés: French Words That Turned English.


Et voilà ! Now you know how to pronounce 60 English words of French origin! Now check our our recent word-of-the-day lesson covering café (both café and coffee).

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on FrenchLearner, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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