• France's news in English
The English words pinched and reinvented by the French
Photo: AFP

The English words pinched and reinvented by the French

The Local · 6 Oct 2016, 16:55

Published: 06 Oct 2016 16:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Oct 2016 16:55 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Strangely, a snack bar, the place where you have a bite to eat, can be shortened to a "snack" and a patron takes part in "le snacking". "On est allés au snack cet après-midi" translates as "We went to the 'snack' this afternoon". Très fashion.
Un Parking
The French love adding -ing to give words a sexy modern touch... but for a car park?
"Gare toi dans le parking." comes out as "Park in the 'parking'."
Un Sweatshirt
A sweatshirt, in French, is called a "sweat" and is pronounced "sweet". Don't be surprised when someone casually asks "Have you seen my sweat?" ("T'as vu mon sweat?")
Le Tuning
This means the modifying or pimping of a car. It possibly comes from the idea of tuning an instrument but the "tuning" isn't something we've heard of in English when it comes to cars.
"Le tuning c'est sa passion" means "'Tuning' is his passion"
Photo: Mark de Jong/Flickr
Un Dressing
If someone asks you to leave your coat in the 'dressing', don't worry. They're only asking you to hang it in the dressing room, not to bathe it in salad sauce.
"Installe-toi, je vais poser ton manteau dans le dressing" or "Take a seat whilst I put your coat in the 'dressing'."
Un Coming-out
Coming out of the closet becomes a noun when it's used in French, so someone can be said to have "fait son coming-out" ("done his 'coming-out'").
Etre Cash
It's a bit unclear how this one came into use but when you're cash to someone in France, you're being sincere and saying something as it is.
"Je vais être cash avec toi", "I'm going to be cash to you"
Partir en Live
To go 'live' (rhymes with five) or "c'est parti en live" is when something or someone absolutely loses control. There are many other equivalent terms such as partir en cacahouète (to go peanuts), partir en vrille (to go spinning), or the more informal partir en sucette (go lollipop) and partir en couille (to go balls).
Du Forcing
If you really insist on something, you are doing some 'forcing', according to the French. 
"Je vais faire du forcing", "I'm going to do some forcing".
Un Recordman/Une Recordwoman
A strange word to coin but nonetheless it sort of makes sense. It refers to a top athlete who holds one or several records. Plural is, as you can guess, recordmen and recordwomen. Usain Bolt is a recordman for the French.
Photo: AFP
Les rugbymen
In English, calling someone a "rugby man" sounds a bit odd. It would most likely describe a big fan of the sport. While for participants of the sport we use the all-encompassing "rugby players", the French for some reason say "rugbymen" and "rugbywomen".
This is the French verb for channel-surfing. It becomes even more Frenchified when the télécommande (remote control) is informally called a "zappette". And it also means "to forget" or to move on to something else.
"Il passe sa journée à zapper d'une chaîne à l'autre" - He spends his day flicking through the channels.
"Passe-moi la zappette" - Pass the 'zappette'
"J'ai complètement zappé de passer au supermarché" - I completely zapped going to the supermarket.
Au Black
In France if you are working ‘black’ it means your wages are not declared to the government. Though it’s tempting to imagine sitting in pitch darkness trying to take notes during a meeting.
Le brushing
Anglos at French hair salons might be a little confused by this one. The French pay extra to have someone brush their hair? Actually the French use the term "brushing" for a blow-dry.
A collection of the best 're-invented' franglais 'ing' words
Photo: Artur Chalyj/Flickr
Le pressing
This word could leaving you with the question: pressing what? Business, oranges, flowers? In fact it means the dry cleaner’s.
Le footing
Translated back into English, this one means jogging or running as in "Veux-tu faire du footing avec moi?" - (Do you want to go jogging with me?) However, it conjures the curious image of a possible new Olympic sport that involves waving one’s feet in the air.
Un box
It refers to a place, generally a storage unit, or horse stables. You wouldn't ask for a ‘box de chocolat’ at the French candy store.
Un lifting
This one does indeed involve lifting, but it’s a question of what. In this case the French would be referring to a little plastic surgery, usually a facelift. As in "Vous voulez un lifting facial?"
Renée Zellweger, who made headlines recently for her 'facing'. Photo: AFP
Un relooking
Nope it doesn’t mean to look again. In French it describes a makeover. You might see an advert for a "relooking gratuit", which of course would be a free makeover. This also comes in the form of a verb as seen in this post on one French chat site:
"J'aimerais me faire relooker, comment faire?" - I would like to give myself a makeover, how should I do it?
Le drive
It means the drive-through service at a restaurant or store, though for the sake of clarity the French have deemed the 'through' unnecessary.
Example: "Le "drive" utilisé par près d'un Français sur cinq" was the headline in a newspaper on how one in five French people were using drive-through services.
Flipper and Baby Foot
The first word does not involve a super smart, well-intentioned dolphin, as in the American TV show that featured just such a creature. The French are referring to a pinball machine. The second word means foosball or table football. No cute little toes here.
Les baskets
Nope, this will be of no use for carrying your picnic lunch out to the countryside. It means tennis shoes or trainers. As in "Il joue au ballon en baskets?" (He plays ball in his trainers) Though the idea of ‘footing’ with 'baskets' on your feet is an amusing one.
Un smoking
Smoking is of course a common English word, but it has been given a makeover by the French who would wear a "smoking" rather than do it. In English un smoking is a tuxedo or dinner suit.
"Faudra mettre un smoking pour la soirée" - We'll need to wear a smoking for the evening.
US actor George Clooney wearing a stunning smoking. Photo: AFP
By James Vasina
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Homeless man does a runner from France's top restaurants
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available