French words in English

france-rail-overview-1The United Kingdom has always had a strange and interesting relationship with its neighbours, France. Of course, we had been fighting each other for hundreds of years before we started to fight on the same side. The first English king was from Normandy: William I; Henry V had such a famous war with France that William Shakespeare wrote a play about it. People have moved from one country to the other all through history. What this means is that even though some English people will say they do not like France, we actually have a lot of links and influences from them. Even in the English language.

The English language is full of French words and I am going to give you some of the most popular in this blog. Be careful though, we still pronounce most of them like Englishmen!



1) Déjà vu – We use this to talk about a situation that we feel we have experienced before.

‘I have never been here before but it is strange because I am experiencing déjà vu.’

2) Façade – When we want to say that we feel somebody is being fake and they are not showing us their real feelings or personality, we will use this word.

‘I don’t like him, he is always putting up a Façade. That is not what he is really like.’

3) Encore – A famous one for music lovers. When the band has finished and we want them to play one more song, an audience will typically shout this! We are basically saying we want something one more time.

‘The best part of the concert was when The Rolling Stones sang ‘Satisfaction’ as their encore.

4) Souvenir – This does not sound English, does it? When you talk about bringing things back as a memory from a place we have visited, this is what you use.

‘ I bought a red London bus as a souvenir from my visit to England.’

5) Touché – A great expression used when somebody has responded to you with a clever answer. They have outsmarted you in some way.

A: I hate horror films
B: But you love the film ‘Scream’
A: Ah, Touché

6) Coup-de-Grâce – This is all about the final piece of something that finishes it or destroys it completely. We want to acknowledge that this was the final bit and many times the worst.

‘ The food was terrible but the Coup-de-Grâce was the chocolate desert. It was awful.’

7) Brunette – We don’t just use brown when we talk about hair colour. We also borrow this from our French friends. It usually means dark hair colour.

‘She used to be blonde but she dyed her hair and is now a brunette.’

8) Bourgeois – One of my favourites. when we want to talk about something or somebody that is typical of the middle class or higher, we will use this word.

‘If you go to Mayfair in London, it is full of bourgeois restaurants and shops.’

9) Petite – We use this usually to talk about women. When we talk about a small, thin woman we usually use this expression.

‘ She is only 5’1. Very petite with brown eyes and brunette hair.’

10) En route – the final one for you today. When we are en route we are literally on our way to somewhere. We would use it when talking about travelling.

A: Where is Michael?
B: I called him 10 minutes ago. He is en route and should be here soon.

For more French to English words and many more video lessons and exercises taught by me on the English language, please join our online courses at

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