Frenchification is the use of French words and terms in English, and as the language associated with Romance, many words find their way into English because of their appeal. Some make it without any alteration, but others are anglicised. We love French terms so much that we even like to add a dash of French to words that are not French. Many words you will recognise immediately as Francaise, but there are some words that may surprise you. Let’s have a look at a smattering of the many French words and expressions we find in English.
a la carte — Literally means “on the menu” and refers to individual dishes rather than a complete meal.
abattoir — slaughterhouse.
amateur — A person who pursues a hobby, study or activity without pay.
ballet — A flowing form of dance.
belle — A beautiful woman or girl.
blasé — Unimpressed with something because of familiarity.
bon appétit — Lit. “good appetite”. Enjoy your meal.
bon voyage — Lit. “good journey”. Enjoy your trip.
boulevard — A type of large road in a city.
bureau — An office; originally meaning a “desk”.
café — Coffee shop.
carte blanche — Lit. “white card”. A blank cheque or unlimited authority.
chic — stylish.
cliché — An overused phrase.
coup d’état — Political coup; government overthrow.
critique — A critical analysis or evaluation of a work.
cul-de-sac — Lit. “buttocks of the bag”, referring to a dead end street.
décor — Layout and furnishing of a room.
déjà vu — Lit. “already seen”. The feeling that you have experienced something before.
en route — On the way.
entrée — Lit. “entrance”; the first course of a meal.
entrepreneur — A person who takes charge of an enterprise or venture.
extraordinaire — Extraordinary.
fait accompli — “Accomplished fact”; a done deal.
faux pas — “False step”; violation of accepted social rules.
fiancé(e) — man/woman engaged to be married.
genre — a type or class (thriller, fantasy etc)
impasse — A situation offering no escape.
je ne sais quoi — “I don’t know what”. An indefinable something.
liaison — A close relationship or connection.
lingerie — Female underwear (ooh la la!)
malaise — A general feeling of depression or unease.
mêlée — A confused fight; struggling crowd
omelette — Dish made from beaten eggs cooked flat in the pan.
parkour — urban street sport involving climbing and leaping, using buildings, walls, curbs to bounce off much as if one were on a skateboard.
parole — speech. Regular interview with a person under conditions of release from prison.
raison d’être — “reason for being”.
sabotage — Subversive destruction. From sabots: wooden shoes that were used to destroy machinery.
sans — without.
sombre — Dismal, dim, shadowy.
venue — Location of an event.
This is just a sample of the many words and expressions English borrows from the French. I referred to Wikipedia for these words. I reapplied the original accents to the words, but these are not often used in modern English texts.