go to content

19 French Words You've Been Using Wrong Your Whole Life

Please stop.

Posted on

1.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A slice of pie served with a side of ice cream.

What it actually means: Something trendy and fashionable. So unless you think ice cream on the side is fashionable, you're using it wrong.

2.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A delicious icy dessert (or a yogurt) that wants you to believe it is healthy because it has fruit.

What it actually means: The word comes from a French dessert, we'll give you that. But in everyday life, parfait simply means "perfect" in French. Which, to think of it, is a pretty good word for that dessert!

3.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A headwaiter.

What it actually means: Nothing. The actual word is maître d'hôtel, literally "master of hotel" in French. So using "maître d'" would be like saying "master of." It just makes no sense.

4.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: Someone who is knowledgeable or an expert, usually in a field like the arts, food, wine, etc.

What it actually means: Nothing. The actual word is connaisseur, with an "a."

5.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A sentence with two meanings, one of which is cheeky and sex-related.

What it actually means: Nothing. Entendre literally means "to hear." So this translates to "double to hear."

6.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A shorter way to refer to Pret A Manger, a non-French chain fast food restaurant with a French name. People usually pronounce it like "prehtt."

What it actually means: Ready. Hence prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear). Also, you're not supposed to pronounce the final "t."

7.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A French pastry similar in its taste to a croissant but filled with two chocolate strips.

What it actually means: *Starts ranting* The word croissant also means "crescent" (as in "the crescent of the moon"). So croissants are called this because of their shape. The thing you call a chocolate croissant is not shaped like a crescent so PLEASE STOP CALLING IT LIKE THIS. There is much debate in France about the name of this pastry — you can call it a chocolatine, which is the word used in southwestern France, or a pain au chocolat, which is used in the rest of the country. *Stops ranting*

8.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: The low neckline of a garment that reveals some cleavage.

What it actually means: Nothing. The right word for this is a décolleté.

9.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A playful way to get the attention of a waiter.

What it actually means: A snobbish, insulting, and patronizing way to get the attention of a waiter.

10.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: The main dish in a meal.

What it actually means: The first course of a meal. In French, the main dish of a meal is plat principal, and the appetizer is called entrée.

11.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: An adjective slapped on any vaguely weird food in order to up its status.

What it actually means: A person who enjoys fine food. A gourmet would probably weep at the sight of much of so-called gourmet food!

12.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: Something a bit indecent and sexually suggestive.

What it actually means: Something risky that can also be dangerous and daring.

13.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A way of acknowledging that someone burned you with a good zinger.

What it actually means: Touched, emotionally moved. It's also what you say when your ship gets hit in Battleship.

14.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: An expensive lingerie brand.

What it actually means: An undercover agent who encourages someone to do something illegal so they can be caught. But it's not used anymore in everyday French.

16.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: An extra song at the end of a concert, generally spurred on by enthusiastic clapping and shouting by the audience.

What it actually means: "Again." French people wanting another song would typically shout une autre (another), rather than encore.

17.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: Something that's no longer trendy.

What it actually means: The past. A better French phrase for "something that's no longer trendy" would be plus à la mode (which also allows you to use "à la mode" appropriately).

18.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: A curriculum vitae, a document where you list all your relevant work experiences and degrees.

What it actually means: A summary, as in: "This is a very good résumé of this book."

19.

BuzzFeed

What English speakers think it means: An expression of wonder that French people use ALL THE TIME.

What it actually means: Mostly an expression of annoyance used only occasionally. Think "oh la la what the fuck is going on?" rather than "oh la la, monsieur, you do have big muscles after all!" (which is the example given by Wiktionary).

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss