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.
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'.”
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?”)
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
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'.”
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'”).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
This word could leaving you with the question: pressing what? Business, oranges, flowers? In fact it means the dry cleaner’s.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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