Foreign Phrases Commonly Used in English
Phrases of French Origin
 Home Page   Browse by First Letter   Browse by Language 
 Arabic   French   German   Greek   Italian   Japanese   Latin   Persian   Portuguese   Russian   Sanskrit   Spanish   Swahili   Yiddish 
Search for Search tips

Language Phrase Meaning
French affaire de coeur love affair
French affaire d’honneur a duel
French agent provocateur inside agent, spy
French à la mode fashionable
French amateur not professional, unskilful
French amour propre self-esteem, pride
French ancien régime the old regime
French après moi le déluge after me, the flood
French à propos regarding, concerning
French arriviste social climber
French au contraire on the contrary
French au courant up to date
French au fait expert, informed, up to date
French au naturel as in nature
French avant-garde radically original, cutting edge
French beau geste a fine gesture
French beau monde fashionable society
French bel esprit wit, elegance
French belles lettres writing valued for its aesthetic qualities
French bête noir annoyance, bugbear
French billet doux love letter
French bon mot witticism
French bon vivant person of refined tastes, gourmand
French carte blanche a free hand, a blank cheque
French cause célèbre a celebrated case
French c’est la vie that’s life
French cherchez la femme look for the woman
French chez nous at our place
French comédie humaine the human comedy
French comme ci comme ça so-so
French comme il faut as it should be
French connoisseur a discerning judge
French cordon bleu high quality
French coup de grâce death blow
French coup d’état sudden overthrow of a government
French coup de théâtre theatrical trick or unexpected event
French coup de main surprise attack
French crème de la crème best of its kind
French cri de coeur heartfelt cry
French déclassé fallen in social standing
French décolletage low-cut neckline
French déjà vu illusion of having experienced something already
French demi-monde prostitutes, bohemians
French de rigueur strictly required
French dernier cri last word, latest style
French détente relaxation of political tensions
French de trop too much, superfluous
French double entendre double meaning
French du jour of the day
French éminence grise power behind the throne
French enfant terrible prodigy, boy/girl wonder
French en passant incidental, in passing
French en route on the way
French entente cordiale alliance between countries
French entre nous confidentially
French esprit de corps team spirit
French fait accompli an accomplished fact
French faux pas social blunder
French femme fatale attractive, dangerous woman
French film noir black film
French fin de siècle decadent, jaded
French folie à deux delusion shared by two people
French force majeure irresistible force
French haute couture trend-setting fashion
French haute cuisine elaborate cookery
French hors de combat out of the fight, disabled
French hors d’oeuvre appetizer
French idée fixe fixed idea, obsession
French je ne sais quoi I don’t know what
French jeu d’esprit puzzle, brain teaser
French joie de vivre joy of life
French laissez faire non-interference in the affairs of others
French lèse-majesté high treason
French manqué failed
French ménage à trois threesome
French mise en scène stage setting, surroundings
French mot juste the right word
French née born
French n’est-ce pas? isn’t that right?
French noblesse oblige nobility obliges
French nom de plume pseudonym
French nouveau riche newly rich
French objet d’art object of some artistic worth
French objet trouvé found object
French outré exaggerated, excessive
French par avion by plane
French par excellence the best example, foremost
French passe-partout master key
French petit bourgeois lower middle classed
French pièce de résistance showpiece
French pied-à-terre apartment in town
French plus ça change the more things change
French prêt-à-porter ready to wear, to go
French prix fixe fixed price
French pure laine pure francophone
French raison d’être reason for being
French réchauffé warmed up
French recherché exotic, obscure
French retroussé turned up
French roman à clef novel representing real history as fiction
French sang-froid composure, equanimity
French sans-souci carefree
French savoir faire social tact
French soi-disant so-called, self-styled
French soupçon very small amount
French tête-à-tête intimate conversation
French tour de force exceptional achievement
French tout de suite immediately
French tout le monde everyone
French trompe l’oeil designed to give the illusion of reality or to deceive the eye
French vis-à-vis with regards to, in relation to
French vive la différence long live the difference
French volte-face reversal