Talk:French words in English

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 Definition French words and phrases in English, including a catalog. [d] [e]

(See also my talk.) I've removed 'aileron' because it is not italicised & has an obvious pronunciation; similarly with menagerie. Puisne is not italicised by my Oxford, and I didn't know the pron: it appears to be *pûnì, a bit like the French puni...? Ro Thorpe 14:22, 16 March 2008 (CDT)

Okay, what about demimondaine? And "honi soit qui mal y pense"? Although uttered by a Brit, so improbably....Hayford Peirce 14:33, 16 March 2008 (CDT)


Speak fer yourself, John Alden. I've been flying on airplanes for, oh, 58 years now, and I don't have Klue as to how it's pronounced! Hayford Peirce 14:36, 16 March 2008 (CDT)

PS -- you take out "aileron" but leave in "fusilage", a far more common word?! This don't myke sense, myte! Hayford Peirce 14:45, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
An architectural word and I've not seen it italicised, but how about filigrée?
Puisne is pronounced 'puny' (I really need to learn how to write pronunciations like you, Ro); it's just italicised all over some of my law books and originates from 'puis' and 'né', so I didn't know if that counted. Must be a British thing how the pronunciation changed.
And I am completely poaching this from a Suede song, but is the term savoir-faire used a lot in English?Louise Valmoria 14:40, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
Yes, it's used a lot. It should be included.... Hayford Peirce 14:45, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
'Filigree' strikes me as being too anglicised, like 'pedigree'. Ro Thorpe 13:49, 17 March 2008 (CDT)

Aileron is pronounced aileron, sez my dicshnry

Just catching up with the comments, & Hayford's running commentary in the histoire. My prons are based on typical Inglish spelling, so Messrs can be rendered as 'messers', suits any pronunciation. If you want to have a go... Ro Thorpe 16:39, 16 March 2008 (CDT)

I've been totally baffled by this word ever since I was about 12 years old and first encounted it in the very early Ellery Queen mystery novels. It was always written Mssrs., and so mentally I have always thought of it as being Messers, to rhyme with Hairdressers. Thanks for confirming my childish decision.... Hayford Peirce 16:57, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
Yeah, but is that "ale" as in "my old ailing momma likes to drink ale" or "elle" as in "Elle et Lui"? It's a mystery word to me -- so I never pronounce it outloud. Hayford Peirce 16:59, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
Glad to confirm your childish decision. Yes, there are always words like that aren't there, & aileron is one of mine, too. My Learner's Dictionary with the IPA confirms it as the sound I call â as in âil and âle. So should you ever need to pronounce it out loud (idea for a short story?), you can Be Bold. Ro Thorpe 17:11, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
My first reaction was 'M. Hayford est un boulevardier confit'? But then I re-read...Well, I can't find confit in English, nor coin-coin in French - corner to corner? Ro Thorpe 19:31, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
Can't find boulevardier in English either. I did think of boulevard earlier, & then forgot it. Perhaps we'd be safer with that? Ro Thorpe 19:36, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
Geez, that's funny. My Merriam-Webster 11th Edition, the standard medium-size 'Merkin dictionary, has "boulevardier" as showing up in 1871 as "a frequenter of the Parisian boulevards, broadly: MAN-ABOUT-TOWN". (Wearing, probably, a boutonniere, or with a LAVALIERE around his neck. By the way, just below "boulevardier" is bouleversement. Food for thought.... As for "coin-coin", isn't that the noise that French ducks make before they're turned into confit? As for "confit", it too is in the same dictionary, with a 1951 entry. In the sort of restaurants I go to about half the time, not necessarily French, but moderately hip, chic, with-it, whatever, there has *always* been for the last 5 or 10 years, a "confit" somewhere on the menu. Maybe "Spinach salad with shredded duck confit," "pizza with mozzarella and duck confit," etc. etc. It's part of 'Merkin restaurant talk BUT probably 99% of the people who order it don't really know what the word means.... Hayford Peirce 20:23, 16 March 2008 (CDT)
Well, if the Merkins use 'em...Now I come to think of it, we had coin-coin in school French. And confit is short for confiture, isn't it? Pronunciations more or less? Ro Thorpe 10:27, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
I think if you have a non-French speaking 'Merkin waiter or waitress, they will ask if you want the "Kon-fee", with the Kon as in Kon-tiki, long ee, and no T. Geez, even fancy delis and meatmarkets in San Francisco sell the stuff....Hayford Peirce 10:38, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
I should have amplified: pronunciations more or less as in French? - as with confêe - stress on 2nd syllable? Isn't it the same thing as pâté? Or are only canards allowed in it? Boulevardier also 2nd syllable stressed presumably. Lavaliere is in neither my French or English dictionaries, but Wikipedia has it. The dictionaries can't have everything, poor dears. Ro Thorpe 10:55, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
French WP doesn't have lavaliere - but it looks French (I've checked it's not Italian) - from a proper noun, presumably. Ro Thorpe 11:26, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
'Merkin confit has the stress on the first syl. -- it's CON-fee. In volume two of my Larousse Universel, on page 29 there are brief entries for Louise de la Baum le Blance La Valliere and Eugenie Fenoglio Lavalliere. Then on the next page, an entry for "lavalliere (va-li) n. f. (de Mme de La Valliere), Sorte de noeud de cravate. (On ecrit parfois LA VALLIERE) Adjectiv, Maroquin lavalliere, maroquin couleur feuille-mort." My 'Merkin M-W 11th says: "lavaliere also lavalliere bla bla (1906): a pendant on a fine chain that is worn as a necklace" There's also another entry for lavalier microphone. What about bouleversement -- that's a word in the dictionary that my gardener, say, doesn't use all that much.... Hayford Peirce 11:42, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
OK, so that's another 3 for you to put in, & another 3 for me to guess the pronunciations wrong. Yes, the French one is just the little Collins I used at school, and the Oxford I inherited from an English teacher in Guimarães who died of epilepsy aged 31: actually his mother let the school have all his books, so I 'borrowed' it. In fact I don't think I paid a penny for any of my dictionaries: the German & Italian ones are presents from girlfriends. Ro Thorpe 12:59, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
I'm guessing that lavalier and its various spellings is pronounced la (as in lab) uh LEER. (Geez, more!) Right below these words are: "lavabo" and "lavage", which reminds me of "douche". Will it never end? As for the other word, I'm struggling with my dictionary, but it *seems* to be bool verse suh ment. Who knows...?
Except that it's not spelt like 'cavalier'. Still, it's a wiki & we can be corrected. So an Anglopron for bouleversement? As for douche, that gives me louche. And touché... Ro Thorpe 13:40, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
The 'cavalier/chevalier' pronunciation as always gotten me. Is 'chevrolet' pronounced 'cab-rolet'? I always just call 'em Chevys, and therefore assumed 'chev-rolet' but then I saw an ad for it, and am so confused.
And while I'm pinching words from song lyrics, we ought go crying at the discotheque. Added concierge and coup d'état, your mileage may vary on both.Louise Valmoria 17:16, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
I dunno about "chevalier" except how to say it in French, but as a certified 'Merkin, I know that Chevrolet is *always* pronounced Shev-row-lay, with the accent slightly on the first syl. Hayford Peirce 17:20, 17 March 2008 (CDT)

Curaçao & titchy dictionerry

My Concise Oxford has 'f. Fr. Curaçao, name of Caribbean island producing these oranges'. However, the WP article on the island suggests it may be a corruption of the Portuguese coração - well, obviously I like that. More research needed. Ro Thorpe 16:47, 17 March 2008 (CDT)

I think it's a question of the Great Concise Oxford nodding in this one example. I just looked it up in the Ultimate Authority, the old Second Edition Merriam-Websters International Unabridged. There is says that the name derives from the Dutch island of Curacao, complete with squiggle, and that it is a drink made mostly in Amsterdam. I just walked downstairs to take a look at my own bottle of the stuff but I musta drunk it -- all I could find were Grand Marnier and Cointreau, both French, and both essentially indistinguishable from Curacao. I did look it up, however, in my thick "Food Lover's Companion" and it says only that it is made from bitter oranges found on the island of Curacao. So I think the Oxford is giving you a false reading here. I don't find any evidence in any source pointing it towards France in any way whatsoever. Well, let's see what the extremely chauvin "Larousse Universel" has to say....In its entirety: "n. m. (du n. d'une des Antilles), Liqueur faite avec des ecorces des oranges ameres, du sucre et de l'eau-de-vie: le curacao de Hollande est le plus repute." As far as I'm concerned, that's absolutely conclusive -- it's from the name of a Dutch island.... Hayford Peirce 17:36, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
Indeed, & what greater authority than French Wikipedia? 'De nombreuses théories tentent de trouver l'origine du nom de Curaçao. La plus probable est que les Espagnols aient appelés l'île Corazon (cœur). Les cartographes portugais auraient ensuite retranscrit le nom en portugais: Curaçau ou Curaçao.' Portuguese corruption of French [Spanish - I'm oozing français] name of Dutch island. Eat yer heart out, Oxferd! Ro Thorpe 18:12, 17 March 2008 (CDT)
I don't care a hoot about the origin of the wretched name as long as I can use the liquid product (in moderation, of course, hehe). What I do care about is accuracy -- as long as it isn't included in this article as a French word, then curacao lovers can do it in the street and frighten the horses for all I care....Hayford Peirce 21:00, 17 March 2008 (CDT)

Eau! Eau! he muttered, Now we're in trouble

Which one do you mean? Eau-de-vie? Hayford Peirce 14:40, 18 March 2008 (CDT)

Ah, an edit conflict. Yes, that one. I forget what the others were. I was saying, though, why don't you do a leetle stub on Curaçao since you actually consume the stuff? We could include the linguistic mystery. Perhaps you should get some in though, first. Ro Thorpe 14:46, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
Lemme see what a bottle costs these days. I've got Cointreau, which I never use, Grand Marnier, which I never use, and a lot of triple sec, which I use all the time in my rum drinks. C. and GM are just expensive variations of triple sec, which is a process. Curacao is just an expensive triple sec. But maybe I could do a stub, as you say. I guess I could also start making G.M. soufflees -- they're awfully good....Hayford Peirce 15:12, 18 March 2008 (CDT)
Eau K, have fun! Ro Thorpe 15:42, 18 March 2008 (CDT)


Sniffer? Never seen that in English. Gotta sauce? (He said in his British accent.) Ro Thorpe 19:14, 23 March 2008 (CDT)

Check this one, myte:[1] Hayford Peirce 20:37, 23 March 2008 (CDT)

C'est ça. French-style pron? Ro Thorpe 14:39, 24 March 2008 (CDT)

I gotta say that in a life un peu mouvemente I have never, to my knowledge, run across a dedicated sniffer in *any* language. So I have no idea. Lemme see if the invaluable M-W 11th has anything.... Nope. I can't find an online source that gives a pron. either. If I had to guess, in English it would be rer-(as in her)-niff-ler, with the stress on the second. But that's just a guess.... Hayford Peirce 17:49, 24 March 2008 (CDT)
I'd heard of neither the word nor the predisposition, but then I'm very innocent. So you favo(u)r rəníflə(r)? En français approximé, rənì-flə(r), or stressed on the first, Jennifer the réniflə(r). Perhaps it depends on the person, & we should put in all three... Ro Thorpe 18:56, 24 March 2008 (CDT)
A menage a trois with a frottage-iste, a renifleur, and a je ne sais quoi? Would probably be fun! Or, more likely, a folie a trois....

de luxury of saying deluxe or de luxe

I was a little surprised, although not completely bouleversé-ed to see that my majestrial 1935 M-W Unabridged has it "de luxe". So it's probably a word like "baseball", which started out as "base ball", became "base-ball" for a long while, then, around 1930 finally became, once and for all, "baseball". I can't locate my 1965 Oxford Concise, and I don't have the strength of character to find the magnifying glass for the big OED.... Hayford Peirce 18:53, 27 March 2008 (CDT)

Yes, like email. When I first came across it, it was two words, but I'm not sure of the context: cars? cigarettes? But by the punk era there were bands (groups, then) with Deluxe in the name, Ducks Deluxe being the first time I realised there was an anglicised pronunciation. Ro Thorpe 19:20, 27 March 2008 (CDT)


I don't understand this one. My M-W 11th calls a fete a "FESTIVAL or lavish often outdoor entertainment; a large, elaborate party." There's also the verb: "to honor or commemorate with a fete; to pay high honor to"; and, while we're at it, how about fete champetre (with appropriate accents) -- M-W calls it "an outdoor entertainment" (let's not confuse it with fetish, hehe) Hayford Peirce 00:03, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

Yes, nice one. Ro Thorpe 10:18, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
Agree that fete is a festival. Usually a small village affair including flower show, a coconut shy, a few sack races and of course the firm favourite of wellie boot throwing. Where I grew up May 1st was the date for one with another at harvest time. Chris Day 00:11, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
Yeah, I agree that it has many meanings. I was just querying the definition that said garden -- let's just redefine things. Hayford Peirce 00:27, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
I agree it is not used in English for garden, that I've ever heard at least. Chris Day 00:50, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
Those italicised words are not definitions, they are association words to evoke meaning, and garden fete is a frequent collocation. However, in view of the misunderstanding, it'd better be changed to festival, perhaps. Ro Thorpe 10:01, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
Ah, now I get the point. But you're right, in view of our misunderstanding garden might not be the best word to clarify. Chris Day 10:24, 2 April 2008 (CDT)


Never heard it in English, but one of my dictionaries has chapeau-bras. Anyway, the search in the other one led me to 'chaperon'. Ro Thorpe 10:18, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

Never hoid of it, nor has my M-W 11th. In their Foreign Words section, however, they do have:
  • c'est la guerre
  • c'est la vie
  • chacun a son gout
  • chateau en Espagne
  • cherchez la femme
  • comedie humaine
  • comme ci, comme ca
along with a bunch of others in the Cs that I think are more obscure.... Hayford Peirce 11:25, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
So I think it should come out. But those are all goodies that can go in. - Hang on, do you mean 'never heard of chaperon'? Ro Thorpe 15:30, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
Non, non, I meant that I had never heard of the bras d'honneur! Hayford Peirce 16:37, 2 April 2008 (CDT)


For me the most interesting thing in English is how we have Saxon and French words that mean the same thing but in English are used quite differently. For example, mutton/sheep, beef/cow and pork/pig. One, it explains why english can have multiple words associated with specific animals compared to other languages. Second, it points to the class origins of the words. French being the cooked form of the meat while saxon being the animal. Presumably this had to do with the saxon serfs being in daily contact with the animals whereas the serfs only heard the french equivalent in the context of the cooked meat? Anyone know? Chris Day 10:32, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

Yes, that is exactly right. We could have those words in a new section: Different words for animals and meat, perhaps. It certainly wouldn't be appropriate to put them alongside the others, as they are considerably anglicised. Ro Thorpe 10:41, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
I was not suggesting to put them in the table, I was just rambling, inspired by the topic at hand. Word origins and the evolution of language is fascinating. Chris Day 10:46, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
I'm not suggesting you were suggesting! But it would be good to have them in. Ro Thorpe 10:50, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
I was not suggesting you were suggesting i suggested moving them to the table. ;) Chris Day 11:04, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

Logic of list?

hors d'oeuvre, oeuvre, bidet, aperitif, crochet, gateaux

.. where do you stop though? I understood that most of our words are French in origin?Gareth Leng 11:12, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

Thanks for those. The logic is explained in the intro to the list. French words are only one of the extra elements in English, which is a Germanic language, more closely related to German, Dutch, Swedish, etc. - You're welcome to put them in yourself by the way. I'll do the pronunciations. Ro Thorpe 11:26, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

I'm the only 'Merkin I know who has a bidet in his home (I installed two of them in S.F., my Tucson one was already here, god knows why, when I bought the house). Plumbers, I've discovered, pronounce it bee-debt, hehe.... Hayford Peirce 11:30, 2 April 2008 (CDT)
One thing I have noticed is the general absence of the word "pain-au-chocolate" from the US although it is commonly used in the UK and continuing the American vs Englsih theme from the other page, but i digress. Would that count, likewise croissant? Or are they too specific? Chris Day 11:59, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

Yes & yes - do put them in. Ro Thorpe 13:35, 2 April 2008 (CDT)

chercher la gonzesse

Are we gonna keep "chercher la femme" or use what is generally used in English, "cherchez la femme", since it's a policeman or some such talking, and telling someone else to do it. Or so I think....

I thought the infinitive was more common, but confess ignorance as to the context. I'll change it.
I just googled both of them "cherchez" has 220,000 hits and "chercher" has 116,000. So they're both common -- I'll add the second one, since they're both pronounced the same. Hayford Peirce 10:33, 4 April 2008 (CDT)
  • Also, what about "à gogo", as in Whiskey a Gogo? That's certainly French. I dunno what the derivation of gogo dancer is, however. Hayford Peirce 19:07, 3 April 2008 (CDT)
M-W 11th says Gogo is partly from "fr. a-go-go" and partly from "fr. dupl. of 'go" -- the latter doesn't make sense to me. Hayford Peirce 19:09, 3 April 2008 (CDT)
Looks like the French latched on to the English 'go', perhaps from Chuck Berry's 'go go Johnny B. Goode' or some such song. Ro Thorpe 08:44, 4 April 2008 (CDT)
Very likely. Good thinking! Hayford Peirce 10:33, 4 April 2008 (CDT)

gaffe vs. gaff

Geez, Ro, one of us here is just not clear on the concept. I thought that this list was about French words that had been brought into English. Gaffe means the same thing in both languages. Gaff is a completely different word, like "there", "their", and "they're", and has absolutely no connection with the French word "gaffe". I just don't know why you want to include these explanations for this *completely* different word.... But I am willing to admit that I am perhaps wrong here on what this list is supposed to be. If so, where am I wrong? Hayford Peirce 23:39, 8 April 2008 (CDT)

The right-hand column is to show pronunciation. In most cases there is no homophone which has the same pronunciation as the word from French, so instead there is an asterisk followed by a respelling. (I've just taken the asterisk away from flaneur, as it is not a repelling, just a re-accenting, so to speak.) But in the case of gaffe, gaff as in blow the gaff, which is of unknown origin (according to my dictionary, which is not perfect, but you know about that) and the fishing gaff, which the dictionary says comes from Provençal gaf, are different words, but they have the same pronunciation so they can be used as a pronunciation guide. Apologies for not making this clear at the outset, but I have now put it in the introduction to the list. Ro Thorpe 09:28, 9 April 2008 (CDT)


What is it most recently famous for? Death, destruction, famine, holocaust, riots, war, stoning of women? The mind reels (and ignores) from all that is happening on that sad, dark continent....

Also, I dunno what Oxbridgians are saying, but I think I can say without fear of contradiction that non-French-speaking 'Merkins are gonna call this country Nigh-jer, to rhyme with High-Her. Hayford Peirce 12:01, 10 April 2008 (CDT)

Bolding & accents

I hope that I've made it clearer now, mon cher. Note that Renoir is only bolded and accented the first time round, & the last time he is restored to normality.

So Murcans don't say Nee-zhãyr, but Nîjer, like Nigeria? That figures. Ro Thorpe 13:09, 10 April 2008 (CDT)

You got it in one! Gotta say that it seems logical to me. I actually know some pretty sophis. ppl who ain't French speakers. Tant pis pour eux, of course, but they seem happy enough with their banal existences.... Hayford Peirce 13:31, 10 April 2008 (CDT)

Brits use the English pron for the river, however. Ro Thorpe 13:11, 10 April 2008 (CDT)

Wheels within wheels within wheels. The mind continues to reel.... Hayford Peirce 13:31, 10 April 2008 (CDT)

Comsêe-comsà. Ro Thorpe 13:49, 10 April 2008 (CDT)

a la maison

I've never heard this used by 'Merkins.... I just checked the main M-W 11th listings, not their "Foreign phrases" section. They have:

  • a la
  • a la carte
  • a la grecque
  • a la mode

and that's all.... Hayford Peirce 16:00, 12 April 2008 (CDT)

I've been out of Britain for so long...The dictionary does have à la page but I've never heard that. Ro Thorpe 16:13, 12 April 2008 (CDT)

In the fashion of the page girl, hehe? Hayford Peirce 18:10, 12 April 2008 (CDT)

the mysterious arriere-ban

According to the main section of the M-W 11th, it is a "(1523) proclamation of a king (as of France) calling his vassals to arms; also the body of vassals summoned"

Yes, found it in my Oxford - a trifle passé for the Collins French - Ro Thorpe 14:32, 13 April 2008 (CDT)


M-W 11th says that it's a district blah blah in France, plus something else in France. In other words, it seems to be *only* used in a sense pertaining to France. Which means it would be like putting département in the list, or distrique (which is what we had in Tahiti, before they became communes). Hmmm, shouldn't commune be here? And arrondissement disappeared? Hayford Peirce 19:02, 13 April 2008 (CDT)

I reveal myself as a Little Europeaner... Ro Thorpe 19:05, 13 April 2008 (CDT)

Herbes de Provence

What's the context for this? Ro Thorpe 10:53, 14 April 2008 (CDT)

Yur right, I was just looking it up in M-W 11th when I saw your note. It's used (spoken) on all the cooking shows, used (spoken) by friends of mine who cook but *don't* speak French, and is on the labels of spice bottles that are sold in supermarkets. BUT, to my surprise, it ain't listed in M-W 11th, so I'm gonna delete it. Mea culpa. Hayford Peirce 10:57, 14 April 2008 (CDT)

De rien. I agree about 'commune', and will put it in. Ro Thorpe 11:15, 14 April 2008 (CDT) Er - !

Croquignole I dimly recall, probably from my days in France, a food word, I think, but croquis I've never heard of. Please enlighten. Are they in MW? They're not in Ox. Ro Thorpe 11:35, 14 April 2008 (CDT) And provocateur sans agent?

  • Croquignole is "a method used in waving the hair blah blah"
  • Croquis is what Renoir or Degas would start with, a "rough draft: sketch"
  • provocateur is the same as A. P., but is listed separately. It could, I suppose, be added to A. P. as the second entry
Both are in the M-W 11th main section. Hayford Peirce 12:05, 14 April 2008 (CDT)

I'm learning something new every day (except that I'll forget them all immediately).

Yes, it's surely better to combine those - & there's another example of combinability in there, I think.

Sue Veed - who is this empty-headed underling? Ro Thorpe 13:19, 14 April 2008 (CDT)

sous vide

A culinary technique that has come along (essentially) since either of us was in La Belle France. It's the latest rage, too new to be in MW, but it will be there in the next edition, trust me.... See here:

and here:

These guys have got a hyphen in it -- I see it both ways.... Hayford Peirce 13:39, 14 April 2008 (CDT)

oh great, Botulism in food. --Robert W King 13:51, 14 April 2008 (CDT)
Naw, not yet. At least no cases that I've ever heard of. It's just a super slow way of poaching foods in sealed containers so that all the juices and flavors are retained. The foods are actually cooked to the same temps as they would be by other means. Hayford Peirce 13:53, 14 April 2008 (CDT)
But it can grow in there; it's bad enough they're shooting the plague into peoples' faces; I'm not so sure you'd want your beef with a side of poison. --Robert W King 13:54, 14 April 2008 (CDT)
I'm pretty Old School about that sort of thing -- I don't worry about it as long as it tastes good.... Hayford Peirce 14:21, 14 April 2008 (CDT)


I *know* that edjukated 'Merkins pronounce it "bee-day", but fer ever'one of us, there is a plumber out there who is actually installing the damn things. And every plumber I've ever talked to, without exception, calls it a "bee-debt". This is anecdotal, of course, but even Homer's two great works started out as anecdotes, I imagine.... So maybe you'd consider adding a second pronunciation? Hayford Peirce 18:50, 14 April 2008 (CDT)

I think you mentioned this before: anyway, no problem. Stress still on first syllable, presumably. Ro Thorpe 09:34, 15 April 2008 (CDT)
Nope. Bee-DEBT. Or so my ancient ears tell me.... Hayford Peirce 09:53, 15 April 2008 (CDT)
Somehow I'm not surprised. What about vocatives like mon vieux and ma chérie? Ro Thorpe 10:16, 15 April 2008 (CDT)
I've heard 'em, but I would say that even in educated circles they're not common enough to be mentioned. MW has "n'est-ce pas" in its "Foreign phrases" section, not the main.... Hayford Peirce 11:35, 15 April 2008 (CDT)
I say "bih day", with the ih sound as in "ick". --Robert W King 11:38, 15 April 2008 (CDT)
Yeah, that's probably the way most educated Americans would say it, I think. Hayford Peirce 12:03, 15 April 2008 (CDT)

Oh, les fraises et les framboises

...les bons vins nous avons bu, les jolies villagoises que nous ne reverrons plus.... Yesterday I had to rush to the hardware store (ha! "ironmongers") to buy a countersinking bit. Like most 'Merkin packaging these days, at least for stuff that has to be sold in Canada also, it's partially labeled in French. To my surprise, a countersinking bit in French is... a strawberry! "Fraise". Well, the shape is similar, of course.... Hayford Peirce 12:07, 15 April 2008 (CDT)


It's a British-American difference, this: cointreau & champagne (and champaign too) are in my Oxford just like that, with a small C and no italics. Certainly I would never capitalise either. Best to include, and mark as BrE only: a footnote would explain the different usages. It would be an interesting addition to the BrE/AmE article also. Ro Thorpe 15:06, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

I have relocated my 1964 COD after a month or so of disruption and just checked it. As of that date, "cointreau" wasn't shown at all. Hayford Peirce 15:50, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Post-war austerity was still biting. By 1977: coi'ntreau (kwă'ntrō) n. Colourless orange-flavoured liqueur. [F; P]

They call it a proprietary name, but they don't capitalise it. Typically British. Ro Thorpe 16:05, 16 April 2008 (CDT)


I thought that this was list of 100% French-French words, not words derived from the French -- didn't we have a discussion about that a while ago with a couple of other parties? If so, "chauvinist" shouldn't be here, because it opens up a floodgate of other words....

Indeed I didn't notice the missing 'e'. Removal time... Ro Thorpe 16:08, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Incidentally, one of my favorite stories. Years ago the polymath Peter Ustinov produced (and directed, I think) an obscure opera from somewhere or other at the august Paris Opera House. It was excoriated by the critics. Ustinov said, in his urbane way, "You know, every country and culture has a prototypical word. In English, it's 'fair play.' In Italy, it's 'imbroglio.' In French, it's 'chauvin!'" Hehe.... Hayford Peirce 15:57, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

vive the something or other

MW 11th doesn't have anything in the main section. It has "difference", "reine", and "roi" in the "Foreign phrases" section. Hayford Peirce 16:01, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

So perhaps vive... seulement? Ro Thorpe 16:10, 16 April 2008 (CDT) - Or perhaps not.

Better skip it, I suppose. Frankly, I'm surprised that "vive le roi" isn't listed, though.... Hayford Peirce 16:37, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

We could have it with those three alternatives as examples, plus la France perhaps. Ro Thorpe 17:09, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

Both my 1964 COD and 1934 MW Unabridged have "vive" listed, COD in italics. Both say, approximately, "as {~le roi)". So maybe we could have "Vive le roi".... Hayford Peirce 19:57, 16 April 2008 (CDT)

I think I'd already put it in when you wrote that. By the way, my other shoulder is playing up now, so must take it easy (sigh)... Ro Thorpe 10:50, 17 April 2008 (CDT)

What a Friend We Have in Cheeses

Okay, wotta we gonna do about the names of all da French cheeses wot have entered da Eng. language? Dere must be a hundred of dem.... Yer call, myte.... Hayford Peirce 10:40, 19 April 2008 (CDT)

"Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?" is one of Les Mots du Général that adorns Wikipedia's very impressive list. 'Ave a butchers, myte! Ro Thorpe 11:10, 19 April 2008 (CDT)
That number quoted by Mon General changes from citation to citation.... Hayford Peirce 12:06, 19 April 2008 (CDT)
Yes, they were the ones I thought of too, the most famous should be enough. Ro Thorpe 13:03, 19 April 2008 (CDT) - Indeed that is what we have already done with the booze: we don't need Beaujolais, tasty though it may be.
I *think* 'Merkin-type ppl say "roke-fert" or "roke-fort", with the stress on the first syl. I don't think I've ever heard a "rock".... Hayford Peirce 12:23, 20 April 2008 (CDT)

Lemme be Franck wit cha, mon ami

The first pronunciation shown in MW 11 has a "K" on the end of "fran". The second pronunciation appears to omit it. My feeling is that if you're a 'Merkin talkin' with LBJ, let's say, you got a choice. You can say, "This fine wine is a mixture of pinot noir and cah-berh-nay fron" OR you can say, "This fine wine is a delightful mixture of pinot noir and cab-ber-nay frank." Outside of really refeened circles in S.F. and NYC, I would imagine that the second obtains most of the time.... Hayford Peirce 20:20, 19 April 2008 (CDT)

Yes, I puzzled over that. There is also Swiss franc = Frank, the only remaining currency called that, at least in Yurp. For the cabernet, why not include both, as alternatives? Ro Thorpe 11:37, 20 April 2008 (CDT)
Allez-y, mon vieux, or, more informally, vas-y, mon pote.... Hayford Peirce 11:45, 20 April 2008 (CDT)
Déjà je vais, as we say in portuguais. Ro Thorpe 11:52, 20 April 2008 (CDT)

au fond, some phrases are more annoying than others

I had a French friend in Tahiti who couldn't go two sentences without saying, "De toute facon...." And I have a 'Merkin friend to whom I have listened for 25 years now say "at this point in time" instead of "now." Ouch! Like a lady friend in San Francisco who off-ten says sal-mun when she orders dinner.... I probably have my own annoying phrases, I suppose.... Hayford Peirce 15:15, 20 April 2008 (CDT)

'At this point in time' is notorious in Britain, whereas the off-ten pronunciation is merely very common (the Salmon Rushdie lady I recall from British & American). I was surprised to see divorcé, as Brits say divorcee, pronounced -see, for both sexes nowadays, or genders as we are supposed to say, but Oxford has it, divorcée too, with the -say pronunciation, right? Ro Thorpe 15:33, 20 April 2008 (CDT)
MW has both divorcé and, as a separate entry, divorcée. The first pronunciation apparently is say, the second is see, and the third, strangely enough, I guess, is just plain "divorce", as in the verb. I wonder if any language has a category for divorced transsexuals? Divorcè mebbe? Hayford Peirce 16:31, 20 April 2008 (CDT)
No doubt. I had forgotten how MW showed pron, and looked at the online one, found that it didn't have divorcé, but otherwise seems to be much the same as your vast paper one. Ro Thorpe 17:26, 20 April 2008 (CDT)

let's go do-do

I don't see any evidence that "de haut en bas" is not pronounced as four words, ie, "de oat e**n bah" as opposed to the three words of "dote e**n bas" that you are, I *think* showing.... Hayford Peirce 22:11, 20 April 2008 (CDT)

Quite right: I've changed it. Ro Thorpe 11:19, 21 April 2008 (CDT)


You win -- it's in the online MW. I just put that icon on my desktop: it ought to be useful, I imagine.... Hayford Peirce 20:44, 21 April 2008 (CDT)

alphabetical list

Isn't it time to start considering making a list as in the English spelling or whatever it is? I just tried importing the formatting from there but was unsuccessful. In any case, if it *is* done, I think we should use"==A==" rather than "===A===", so that we have: 1, 2, 3, etc., rather than 1A, 2A, 3A, etc. Wotcha think? Hayford Peirce 11:32, 22 April 2008 (CDT)

You mean like English spellings? Cutting it up into letter-sections in order to get a table of contents? Trouble is, I for one have no experience of cutting up a table - only just learnt how to make them... Ro Thorpe 12:11, 22 April 2008 (CDT)


Oxford just says it's French. Amour propre is a must, & I note you've put it in, so I don't think we need amour separately. Ro Thorpe 12:20, 22 April 2008 (CDT) - And I'm puzzled about what you say about the Latin, which would be different: amor, amoris (just checking in my little dictionary, which I've had since 1957) and rosatus, -a, -um, no? No, it doesn't have a verb rosare, just rosa.

MW says "amour propre" is from the "F amour propre, lit., love of oneself". But for "amour" it says "[ME, love afffection, fro. AF, fro. Old Occitan amor, fr. L, fr. amare" etc. So there seems to be a distinction, although perhaps without a difference. I'll let you and the other lexicographers worry about it.... Hayford Peirce 16:04, 22 April 2008 (CDT)

The list definitely belongs on a subpage

The subpage type is CZ:Catalogs...this is exactly the sort of function that catalogs are meant to serve. This is a catalog of French words in English. The main page should be a prose narrative introducing the general topic of French words in English. --Larry Sanger 14:32, 22 April 2008 (CDT)

I will watch Ro leap into action! Hayford Peirce 16:05, 22 April 2008 (CDT)

Ro Thorpe 16:13, 22 April 2008 (CDT): [Collapses into heap of scrap metal.]

hidden words

The on-line MW has this for cachepot: same as my MW 11th. But neither of them have cabotin.... Hayford Peirce 12:41, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

So that's what those things are called!
Cabotin in my Oxford is a second-rate actor. I'm gonna see if I can find that online.
It ain't in my 1964 COD, I just checked. Hayford Peirce 13:04, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
There seems to be quite a difference between your 1964 & my 1977, the year of punque, after which the number of French words in English began its decline, as a result of the onset of global warming. And the online Oxford isn't much good, MW wins hands down there. Ro Thorpe 13:48, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
By the way, thanks for your letter (I like the old-fashioned terminology) - reply to follow. Ro Thorpe 12:52, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
De rien. I've now got my office mostly rebuilt after 3.5 months of travails and am sorting my books and rearranging them. On the shelf just above the keyboard/monitor are various French/English dicts., the Concise Oxford Dictionary of '64, and the MW 11th, plus Fowler and various other style books and references. In a floor-to-nearly-ceiling bookcase just to the right of my computer desk, on the two bottom shelves, are the heavyweights: two volumns of "The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary", two volumns of the "Larousse Universel", and the 24 volumes of the 1940 EB. The 1935 unabridged M-W International with its 650,000 prescriptive words is still sitting in my bedroom, waiting to be moved back in its little stand to its place of honor on top of the 2-drawer filing cabinet on the other side of my office. It's good exercise to get up once in a while and cross the room to consult it.... Hayford Peirce 13:04, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

So is the photo on your user page/bio page still applicable to at-this-moment-in-time? You seem to be getting plenty of exercise already. And we haven't got 'travail'... Ro Thorpe 13:48, 27 April 2008 (CDT) - And who or what is Nez Percé?

Nope, the photo is clearly out of date. I'll have to get someone to take another photo of my in the same place once the drapes and carpet are in place. And I have a couple of stuffed cats to replace the real one, which I gave away [sad thingee icon here]. Fortunately I have lotsa Scotch to keep the glass in my hand charged up....
  • The Pince Nez are a western Indian tribe (I guess they still exist somewhere) who were probably named by French voyageurs or trappers.... Hayford Peirce 14:03, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

Indeed I'd never heard of them, & it seems I've got the pronunciation wrong, as Wikipedia gives 'Nezpairce' in its IPA. Is that how you say it?

MW-11th gives 3 pron., with the "say" on the end as the third. I gotta admit that I have never, in my entire life, heard anyone speak the name of this tribe out loud, hehe, so I guess we gotta go with the dict. and WP.... Hayford Peirce 15:50, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

Why did you give away the lovely cat? Because of the rebuilding, perhaps. Ro Thorpe 15:06, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

A mistake. I gave her away the same day I got rid of my GF of 4 years, changed my will, and rekeyed all the locks on my house. A busy day. The next day I realized my mistake in getting rid of Leonetta, went to pay ransom to recover her, and learned that a little old lady had already claimed her. Sigh. Every night for about a week, when I'd come back home after my evening walk and open the door and NOT find her sitting there waiting impatiently for her dinner, I would tear up. A mistake, I repeat.... It was supposed to allow me to reclaim my life with no ties.... Hayford Peirce 15:50, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

That's so sad. One of those terrible days one would like to be able to undo. Sigh indeed. Ro Thorpe 16:08, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

Fer sure! Thanks for the sympathy.... (On the cheerful side of things, my ex-GF stayed gone, pretty well....)Hayford Peirce 16:15, 27 April 2008 (CDT)


Merde, merde, merde! I didn't "save page" for the *long* friggin' comment I just wrote! It's not here! While I redo it, I believe that in English the musical instrument is pronounced "in" as in Lynn, and the kitchen thingee "een" as in "teen". Also, I don't think that there is a "mandolin" form in French, although I could be wrong, god knows.... Hayford Peirce 16:21, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

Yes, I must qualify that. The kitchen thing that I'd never heard of - could that be a proprietory name originally? - So at least the GF was a good riddance. Looking forward to your reconstructed comment, it'll probably be better the second time. Ro Thorpe 16:31, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
I did add a few more words, yes. I wrote it in WordPad, then copied, just to be certain! Hayford Peirce 16:36, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

kitchen mandolines

For years I used to see a big, glossy French instrument, made by Bron, I think, that sold for about $180 and was a little too big and unwieldy looking to contemplate having in my own kitchen. It looked useful for the completist, however. I believe French cafes and modest restaurants and delis would use it to slice up "celeri" for "celeri remoulade" and potato slices for "pommes souffles", also for french fries and curly vegetables. Here's a picture of what I think of it being like:

'Merkins have recently taken it up, however, at least the trendy ones, and now a lot of cheap models are available, beginning at $20 and going up to $350. Such as this one in the WP article:

Cooks Illustrated recently tested 12 of them and a $50 Oxo came in first; the $350 model (not a Bron) from France was the clear last. So I bought the $50 one, which really isn't very large. It did an *excellent* job as you can see in slicing the *cold* corned beef. I just a little while ago did half a carrot in juliennes and a large potato in 6-mm strips for fries. It seemed to do a very adequate job with each -- with a little practice I could probably do it even better. The Bron model, I think, you can adjust for different size fries, for instance, but with my Oxo you have only one size; although it will do crinkle cuts and dice things also, as well as just slicing veggies in 4 different thicknesses.... I'll send you pix of the carrots and potatoes. If I haven't shot myself first for not having *saved* THIS comment! (a "edit conflict" tried to screw me up, but I outsmarted it!) Hayford Peirce 16:35, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

Only the Wikipedia link delivers, the first links to Google and in the second there are a lot of knives, but I can't find a mandoline. But the WP article makes it clear what it is. I don't think Eva has got one! Ro Thorpe 16:47, 27 April 2008 (CDT) - I tried the Google & only the spelling with the e gave pictures of your implement, which would seem not unlikely.

Hmmm. Go to: and type in mandoline and bron, just those two words -- that should give you a bunch of pictures of the original inox. one. Hayford Peirce 17:28, 27 April 2008 (CDT)
Yes, that's the sort of thing WP shows. Never seen such a thing, as far as I know. Thanks for continuing my education! - Ro Thorpe 17:43, 27 April 2008 (CDT)

a qui le dites-vous?

I never heard this expression before, but then I read a NYT book review and it's used twice. Here are the paragraphs:

  • Then after crossing the Channel to the country where he grew up, Judt finds England awash with whimsical “heritage” — as opposed to things that actually work — epitomized by former mining villages Disneyfied into theme parks. Sharp-eyed as he is, political prejudice colors his account here. There is a long riff on the decayed state of British railways (à qui le dîtes-vous; tell me about it: some of us have to use them regularly), compared with French railways, so good that riding them is a pleasure in itself. But then Judt and I don’t pay French taxes, and he might have addressed the plausible argument that, at least in the British context, state subsidy of public transport — as of higher education and the arts — represents a net transfer of wealth from poor to rich.
  • He displays an understandable contempt for Tony Blair (à qui le dîtes-vous again: some of us had to live under his government), although from the perspective of an impenitent social democrat. While Judt says that “Communism defiled and despoiled the radical heritage,” he could have added that the cause of even moderate British socialism was completely discredited by the failures of Labor governments in the 1960s and ’70s. And while Judt has few good words for Margaret Thatcher, he might try to see that she compares favorably with her epigone Blair at every point, not least in her far less servile attitude toward Washington.

Is the reviewer just being unspeakably pretentious, or is this something that educated Brits use? Hayford Peirce 12:03, 28 April 2008 (CDT)

The former, to be sure. - Sorry I'm not being very chatty, reason as before, alas. Ro Thorpe 12:06, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Rouge & Noir

Shouldn't this just be the Stendhal title? Are there other English contexts? (And I think people who say vin rouge are just being pretentious, as it adds nothing we can't already say in English.) Ro Thorpe 12:17, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Nope. And Yup.
  • Rouge is the stuff that ladies put on their lovely faces. And transgendered lovelies also.... (I've heard this word since I was at least 4 years old.)
  • Noir is used all the time these days in writing about "film noir", "noir novels," etc. etc. It is, in fact, in danger of turning into a cliche. MW says it's been around since 1980. "Chinatown", for instance, I don't think can be written about without "noir" being used at some point. Ditto for Raymond Chandler, although I would be curious to know what he himself would have thought about the word. "Bladerunner" is another example.... Hayford Peirce 14:42, 29 April 2008 (CDT)
My excuse is that I woke early because of the pain. Just blundered away a rook over at Need a decent night's sleep. Ro Thorpe 15:45, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Lemme Caution ya

'Merkins say "sham-me", with the stress on the first. Hard to believe but true. When I was young, my cousin was always washing his parents' car and using a sham-me to dry it. I was then totally baffled when I would see something for sale in autostores or garages called a "chamois". (MW 11th gives the sham-me as the first pron.) Hayford Peirce 14:49, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

Yes, that alternative pron was in my Oxford, but I couldn't be bothered to decipher it. Ro Thorpe 15:48, 29 April 2008 (CDT) - So how long before the eureka moment when you realised they were like the morning & evening stars?
Oh, probably not more than 35 years or so, when I was in my mid-40s. I'm a *slow* learner. Also, it just seemed *so* improbable....
Absolutely it does.
  • Sure hope that YOU FEEL BETTER!!!! SOON! Hayford Peirce 17:36, 29 April 2008 (CDT)
Absolutely also, thanks. Just taking it easy, alcoholic medication, good sleep...
Also I was reading the correpondence re the Jensen/Ewen editor/author dispute: have to say I agree with you & the majority there... Ro Thorpe 17:54, 29 April 2008 (CDT)
I'll lift a glass of grog to ya tonight! I guess you gotta be a philosopher not to see and understand the inherent conflict of interest involved in letting an Editor/Author overrule a fellow Author on the same article.... Hayford Peirce 18:02, 29 April 2008 (CDT)
More absolutely. Ro Thorpe 18:07, 29 April 2008 (CDT)

See also = Related articles, non?

Shouldn't we move all the See Also links to the Related Articles tab? I'm pretty sure that this is the sort of thing that Larry is pushing? I know that there have been lotsa discussions about this in various places, but I have lost track of them.... Hayford Peirce 16:17, 2 May 2008 (CDT)

Yes, I'm pretty sure you're right, I've seen those discussions. Ro Thorpe 17:15, 2 May 2008 (CDT)

i don't think french accents should be optional

as a student of the French language I would prefer that the French accents are not optional and are correctly placed in the left column. Thank you! Tom Kelly 18:01, 20 September 2008 (CDT)

That's the idea: I suspect the incorrect accent on 'aiguillette' may have caused your concern. I've corrected it, and please do the same if you see any others. By 'optional' is meant the fact that French accents are often omitted in English contexts, not that they are optional in the table: they aren't. Ro Thorpe 18:40, 20 September 2008 (CDT) - and now Hayford has anticipated me & clarified it!

ok, cool, I misunderstood what the optional meant. My ability in French is so limited that I was unable to verify which words needed accents or not. Merci. Tom Kelly 22:20, 20 September 2008 (CDT)

De rien - Ro Thorpe 17:55, 21 September 2008 (CDT)