From Bonjour to Voilà: The French Phrases We Can’t Live Without

Did you know that a lot of French words have actually become a part of our everyday vocabulary?

You probably know words that are often used in fashion, cuisine and the arts like “prêt-à-porter,” “bon appétit” and “genre,” right? 

So what kind of words do we use and what do they mean?

  • à la carte – on the menu, food that can be ordered as separate items, rather than part of a set meal
  • apéritif – a pre-dinner drink
  • à propos – with regards to
  • au contraire – on the contrary or just the opposite
  • avant-garde – innovative or experimental ideas or actions, particularly in the arts
  • bon appétit – enjoy your meal
  • bon voyage – have a good trip
  • boutique – a small, specialised shop, typically selling fashionable or luxury items
  • chauffeur – a driver
  • chic – stylish or fashionable
  • couture – high-end, custom-made clothing or fashion design
  • cul-de-sac – a dead-end street
  • décolleté – cleavage, garment with a low-cut neckline
  • déjà vu – the feeling of having experienced something before
  • eau de cologne – a type of perfume or fragrance
  • entrepreneur – a person who has created a company
  • faux – false or fake, often used to describe imitation materials or designs
  • faux pas – a social blunder
  • fiancé(e) – a person engaged to be married
  • hors d’œuvre – an appetiser before a meal
  • je ne sais quoi – a quality or feature that is hard to describe
  • laissez-fairethe policy of leaving things to take their own course, without interfering
  • lingerie – female underwear
  • rendezvous – a meeting, date
  • répondez s’il vous plaît (RSVP) – please reply to an invitation
  • savoir-faire – know-how
  • soirée – an evening party
  • vis-à-vis – face-to-face
  • voilà – there you go, there it is

    These are just a few examples of the many French words that have become part of the English language.

    They are often used without any translation, even by people who don’t speak French.

    Do you have a favourite French word or phrase? 



    1. Hi Christine!
      As I‘m able to speek French, these words and phrases are familiar for me.
      I didn‘t know that they are used by British people. My favorite prase is: J‘ai soif! ( I’m thirsty) because if it‘s urgent you can say : soiffff
      I hope you are fine!

      • Hi Gabi,
        We’re always learning new things, aren’t we?
        I’m fine, thank you. I hope you are, too.


    Submit a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Foto Christine Sparks

    What should I write about next? Any suggestions?

    14 + 8 =