85 Commonly Used French Words And Phrases In English

The impact of French on the English language is clear. We use many French words and phrases every day. Looking at these 85 standard French terms helps us understand more than words. It shows us how France and England’s histories are linked.

When we see how these phrases fit into English, we learn about cultural exchanges and how cultures adapt. Let’s think about how language influences our view of the world. It’s worth appreciating the subtle details that enrich our conversations and writings.

85 Common French Words And Phrases Used in English

French Words And Phrases Used in English

French Word/Phrase English Meaning
à la carte According to the menu
à la mode In fashion, with ice cream
avant-garde Innovative, ahead of its time
beau Beautiful, handsome
bon appétit Enjoy your meal
bon voyage Have a good trip
carte blanche Complete freedom
cliché Overused expression
coup d’état Sudden overthrow of a government
déjà vu Feeling of having already experienced something
du jour Of the day
en route On the way
encore Again, additional performance
faux pas Social blunder
fait accompli Accomplished fact
fiancé(e) Engaged person
genre Category, type
hors d’oeuvre Appetizer
laissez-faire Let do, non-interference
ménage à trois Household of three
naïve Innocent, inexperienced
papier-mâché Paper mache
raison d’être Reason for being
rendezvous Meeting, appointment
résumé Summary, CV
risqué Slightly indecent or shocking
sabotage Deliberate destruction
savoir-faire Know-how, expertise
tête-à-tête Private conversation
touché Acknowledgment of a point made
vis-à-vis In relation to
à la In the manner of
au pair Live-in child carer
bête noire Pet peeve
carte Menu
coup de grâce Final blow
cul-de-sac Dead end
dénouement Resolution of a story
double entendre Double meaning
en masse In a group
fête Party, celebration
film noir Dark, crime drama
joie de vivre Joy of living
matinée Morning performance
nouveau riche Newly rich
pièce de résistance Main item, masterpiece
précis Precise, summary
protégé Protected person
raison d’état Reason of state
sang-froid Composure, coolness
savoir-vivre Knowledge of proper behavior
tour de force Feat of strength or skill
vis-à-vis Face-to-face, counterpart
voilà There it is
apropos Appropriate, to the point
au contraire On the contrary
bon vivant Person who enjoys good living
café au lait Coffee with milk
crêpe Thin pancake
critique Criticism, review
décor Scenery, decoration
entrée Main course (US), starter (UK)
faux pas Social mistake
gaffe Blunder, mistake
haut couture High fashion
laissez-passer Permit, pass
mélange Mixture
motif Theme, pattern
papier-mâché Paper maché
petite Small, little
raison d’être Reason for being
soirée Evening party
touché Acknowledgment of a hit or point
à propos Regarding, about
belle Beautiful
bon mot Witty remark
cuisine Cooking, kitchen
enfant terrible Troublesome child
hors d’oeuvre Appetizer
liaison Relationship, link
pièce de résistance Main dish, masterpiece
roulette Gambling game
sous-chef Assistant chef
trompe l’oeil Optical illusion
vinaigrette Salad dressing


In conclusion, blending French words into English shows a deep cultural exchange. This mix makes English richer, giving us more expressive and sophisticated talking methods. French words are everywhere – in fashion, food, everyday talk, and even law. This shows how much French adds to English, making it more diverse. Knowing where these words come from can deepen our love for English and connect us more with French culture. As languages keep changing, the French influence on English shows how connected our cultures and ways of speaking are.

About the author
Ines Yaïci, born and raised in France, brings her native fluency in French to the Translation Blog as a part-time content writer. With a master's degree from the prestigious University of Paris I: Panthéon-Sorbonne, Ines combines her academic expertise with a keen interest in the stock markets. Her diverse background and passion for languages make her contributions to the blog both insightful and engaging.

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