For members


French word of the Day: Ricain

French people might label you as this once they hear your accent but don't worry, it's not offensive.

French word of the Day: Ricain
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know ricain?

Because you need to know how to react if you are called it.

What does it mean?

It means “American”. It's a shortened version of americain and has a feminine version too – ricaine (short for americaine).

As such it's slangy, but it's certainly not an offensive thing to call someone.

Dix-mille Ricains vivent à Paris – tens of thousands of Yanks live in Paris [a slight exaggeration but there a significant American community in Paris]

READ ALSO Where in France do Americans live?

J'ai entendu son accent et j'ai pensé 'c'est un ricain' – I heard his accent and I thought 'he's American'

J'aime les ricains, ils sont toujours amicaux et généreux en matière de pourboires  – I like Americans, they're always friendly and good tippers;

There's even a popular French song paying tribute to les ricains.


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For members


French Expression of the Day: Faire la java

This expression is one to use if you see someone looking a bit worse for wear.

French Expression of the Day: Faire la java

Why do I need to know faire la java?

Because you might be looking for a different way to describe the fun times you had last weekend.

What does it mean?

Faire la java usually pronounced fair lah jah-vah – translates literally as ‘to do the java,’ which refers to a popular dance from the early 1900s in France. However, these days, the phrase is a synonym for the more popular phrase ‘faire la fête’ which means to party, usually involving alcoholic beverages and minimal amounts of sleep.   

In the 1910s to 1920s, when the java dance was popular, it was typically performed at big parties. It’s unclear where the term ‘java’ came from, as it has no connection with the island of Java. The dance itself was quite scandalous at the time, and it was seen as overly sensual and risqué. Though the dance fell out of practice in the 1950s, the phrase remained in use, which is why you’ll probably still hear French people, especially those of the older generation, talking about their wild times ‘faisant la fava.’ 

If you’re curious what the dance was like, here is a clip:

Use it like this

J’étais tellement épuisée quand je me suis réveillée ce matin parce que hier soir on a fait la java. – I was so exhausted when I woke up this morning because last night we partied.

Mes voisins aiment faire la java, ce qui serait bien, mais ils font tellement de bruit les soirs de semaine. – My neighbours love to party, which would be fine, but they make so much noise on weeknights.