Debbie Nogueira
By Debbie Nogueira on July 07, 2022

Borrowed Words in English that You Didn't Realize Were French

English is a language that loves to borrow words from other languages. It has no problem simply taking the word exactly as it is in the language and simply plopping it into daily conversations. French is one of the main languages that has provided English with many of its borrowed words. Some words are pretty obviously French such as déjà vu or croissant. Other borrowings are a little covert and have been borrowed much longer in the language, so much so that there are two pronunciations for them: the more French one and the Anglicized one. An example is the word garage. The word can be pronounced with the last g having a more French g sound (original pronunciation) or with the English j sound (Anglicized pronunciation). Keep reading to see more borrowed words in English that you didn't realize were French.

Canva Design DAFFvcwD3cIAvalanche This one is pretty easy to see its French origins. The word was first borrowed in the 18th century and comes from a root word meaning descend

Canva Design DAFFvaeVNicBachelor This word and its female counterpart bachelorette both originate from the French word bacheler. The word started to be used back in the 1300s and had the original meaning of "young man" and "youthful knight, novice in arm."

Canva Design DAFFvTqeO8MCul-de-sac This common road term originated during the 18th century and literally means "bottom of the sack/bag." It was originally used in the field of anatomy, but has since been changed to be the circular end of a neighborhood street. 

Canva Design DAFFvWSMju4Detour Another common traffic term, this word is also of French origin. The original sense of the French word meant turn away, and it evolved to mean change of direction. It was with this meaning that English adopted the word in the 18th century.

Canva Design DAFFvh2m9fYTechnique Although English borrowed this word from the French word meaning "technicality" or "branch of knowledge", it actually originates from three different forms of the Greek word with the meanings "of or pertaining to art, artistic, skillful", "art and handicraft"), and "to bring forth, produce, engender". 

Canva Design DAFFvq0upzQValid This French borrowed word was originally adopted during the 1570s and had the meaning of "having force in law, legally binding" and was also influenced by a Latin word meaning "strong, effective, powerful, active." 

Canva Design DAFFvmnfqekZest Without borrowing words from French, English would have no "zest for life." English put its own spin on this word by taking the original meaning of "orange or lemon peel used to flavor food or drinks" and adding an additional meaning of the quality of anything that adds enjoyment to something. 

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Published by Debbie Nogueira July 7, 2022
Debbie Nogueira