16 new words that the French language really needs

The Local
The Local - [email protected]
16 new words that the French language really needs

French has loads of great untranslatable words - and even a special phrase for thinking of a perfect comeback too late - but here are some that Oliver Gee reckons they should incorporate to the language.


Ménage a moi
When you end up going home alone in a taxi (or Uber more likely) after spending an unsuccessful night out in Paris trying to pick up locals.
"Did you meet anyone last night? Yeah beaucoup, but no luck. Another 'ménage a moi' for me."
Déja who
The sensation of meeting a French person at a soirée who you definitely remember meeting at a previous soirée or perhaps even twice, but whose name you've totally forgotten, again.
When you go out for an early evening apéritif at the house of your French friends that descends into torture.
Normally it's because they don't have enough alcohol for you, no one talks to you, you don't speak good enough French, can't follow the conversations, don't dare to speak, and wish you could be elsewhere. 
The laid back approach that some Parisian men have towards their hairstyles, which is definitely more laissez-faire than lacquered perfection. Forget hair product, embrace the disheveled and messy laissez-hair look .

French actor and YouTube sensation Norman Thavaud goes laissez-hair. Photo: AFP

After spending Christmas in France eating copious amounts of foie gras and chocolate log (separately, normally) you’ll probably be feeling very guilty and take a vow to do some rigorous exercise to shed those extra pounds. 

“Oh I feel terrible, I'm gonna have to spend the whole of January at the flabattoir.”

A la toad
Those foreigners who come to Paris and try to dress as fashionably as the French, but don't pull off à la mode and just basically look ridiculous.
The French intellectual, or intello as they are called here, that you meet in a café on the Left Bank who turns out to be more mad than clever and you have to make a run for it.
Gone appétit
The exclamation for when a meal looks so unappetising that when it's plonked down in front of you, you're suddenly no longer hungry. Think tête de veau (calf's brains), langue de boeuf (cow's tongue) and andouillettes (pig's intestines). 
"Oh dear I really shouldn't have chosen the tripe. Gone appetite, everyone."
Ban au chocolat
A mindset for when you're cutting back on French pastries - "I won't be stopping at the patisserie, I'm on month long "ban au chocolat".
Banning pain au chocolat? Inconceivable. Photo: AFP
An exclamation to be used when finding an empty Vélib bicycle rack, or indeed when realising too late that your bike is faulty. 
"Oh this is bloody unVélibable," said one irate newcomer after getting a flat tyre.

The Vélib' bike hire system is generally great, except when it isn't. Photo: AFP
La hell vie
The reality of life for some new arrivals whose dream of finding La Belle Vie in France has been scuppered by endless and confusing taxes, red tape, loneliness and a lack of Yorkshire Tea. 
Someone who wishes they were a takeaway-coffee drinking, beard-wearing hipster (known as a bobo - short for bourgeoise-bohème - in France), but who doesn't actually pull it off.
A posh Parisian, most often found in the west of the city in an apartment with an Eiffel Tower view. 

While Parisians are quite happy to use the word périphérique for the city’s crazy ring road where vehicles drive bumper to bumper, expats are more likely to refer to the noose around Paris as the Periphereeeeeeek! given how frightening it is to navigate. 

The notorious Paris périphérique. Photo: AFP


Parisians who are forced to cross the periphereeeeeeek ring road to go the suburbs (banlieue) are often left looking a little pale and feeling weak at the knees. That’s because they are suffering from a bad case of “banlieurgy”.

It's easily cured, just by taking them home.

Often to get to the banlieue Parisians have to take the rundown, under invested, always packed, occasionally smelly and sometimes dangerous commuter train system the RER.

And lastly, we all lapse into franglaziness every now and again, when we can't be bothered to to think of the French word and just start speaking "franglais" in the hope to be understood. So stop being franglazy and learn the language.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also