French word of the day: People

French word of the day: People
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Did you know that this word means something slightly different in France?

Why do I need to know people?

Knowing people is good for your mental health since loneliness is… Oh, you mean why do you need to know the French word people? Well, to avoid misunderstandings like that.

What does it mean?

People in French is a false friend – a word which seems identical to an English term but which has a different meaning.

More specifically, it’s an example of the French adopting an English word but changing its meaning – another example is the word basket, which in French refers to a trainer or sneaker.

Because in French, the word people does refer to, well people, but only those in a specific category. Namely: celebrities.

It’s very often used in the phrase presse people, which refers to gossip magazines like Closer and Voici.

It leads to sentences which can sound funny to Anglophone ears, like this recent headline from local newspaper Sud Ouest: Bassin d’Arcachon : mais où sont passés les people ? (Arcachon Bay: where did all the celebrities go?)

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See also on The Local:

Be sure to properly pronounce the L when using the word in French – it’s very occasionally written as pipole, which signals to native French speakers how to pronounce it phonetically.

Use it like this

En été, j’aime bien lire des magazines people à la plage – In the summer, I like reading gossip magazines at the beach

J’ai vu beaucoup de people pendant mes vacances à Cannes – I saw lots of celebrities while I was on holiday in Cannes.

J’aime pas la presse people, elle ne respecte pas la vie privée des gens – I don’t like gossip magazines, they don’t respect people’s private lives

Member comments

  1. “which refers to gossip magazines like Closer and Voici” and perhaps “People” magazine here in the US (LOL),

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