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French Loanwords In English Language

English is shaped from a combination of languages that includes German, French, Greek and Latin. But we get around 1/3rd of our vocabulary directly from French language. The origins of these English words trace back to French language because of the conquering of the Norman in 1066.  This had a great impact on English language. Therefore, there are countless words that English shares with French.

French words crept into English language mainly in the fields of law, administration and food.


In the thirteenth century, the term ‘entrepreneur’ is obtained from the French action word ‘entreprendre’. The word meant to undertake or accomplish something. According to the history, by the sixteenth century, the action word had changed to form the noun ‘entrepreneur’ which referred to somebody who took up a business venture.


Does this word ‘Boulevard’ remind you of any English song? Yes, that’s right. The popular American pop song ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ by Green Day has used the French word ‘Boulevard’ in their song. This French word means a street, road or avenue. In Paris, numerous new boulevards were passed through the city in mostly straight lines to make large troop movements and developments simpler.


When you wandered around a Crossword book store, you must have seen books usually arranged by genre. Genre, as you might figure out from the way in which it sounds, comes directly from French. It is closely related to the word genus, a word you may have seen and heard in your Biology classes. Both words contain the gen -root since they show that everything in a specific category belongs to the same family and in this manner has similar starting points.


The English word ‘matinee’ is a word that every movie buff would know. But it would not have stricken their minds that this word is originated from French. In English, matinee means an early showing of a film or theatre performance, especially during the day. The French word matin means the soonest part of the day, the morning.


The word restaurant comes from the French word restaurer, which means “to give food to or to restore”. This word was first used in France in the 16th century, to describe the thick and reasonable soups sold by roadside vendors that were advertised to restore your health.

Restaurants provide food for you if you have got the money and we just need to sit down right there and eat the food.


This French term literally means “already seen”. This phrase describes a complex and strange phenomenon of feeling an overwhelming sense of familiarity with something that should not be familiar at all. For example, you are having a cup of coffee with your best friend, discussing some office issues and you get a feeling that you have already experienced this very thing – same place, same friend, same cup of coffee, same topic of discussion.


Yes, this is another popular French word that stumbles across for many of us in our lives. There is no translation since fiancé in French is fiancé in English as well. One small secret is the difference in the spellings. A male life partner is referred to as fiancé with one “e” while the female life partner is referred to as fiancée with two “e’s”. This distinction is because of the fact that there is always the masculine and the feminine way of writing French words.


Sauce seems like a word that was born and brought up in the English language. We have got cheddar sauce, chocolate sauce, tomato sauce etc. However, the truth is that we have just borrowed the word. It is a French word taken from the Latin salsa, which means salted. It is a standard component of French cuisine.


The word chef is also borrowed from French. In French, chef refers to boss or head of the workplace. As per the French culture, chef is not just the Rockstar in the kitchen. The top officer in any organization or place of business is also called chef. If you take a quick glance through the job portals in France, you will see many job openings for ‘chefs’.


Naïve is a French loanword which is used in English to imply that somebody is extremely simple and does not realize about the dangers around them. Somebody who is naïve needs more insight of life to know about things he or she should know.

The rich French language has loaned numerous words to English over time improving the language’s diverse origins immeasurably. English has extended its vocabulary by extensively borrowing literal items from other languages. Of all sources of these borrowed words, the most significant contribution has been from French. Many English-sounding words are just changed versions of their French origins. Thanks to the proximity of the two countries, French and England, there is more common vocabulary than you may have realized and it is not all so evident.

The next time you speak with someone, just pay attention. You are most likely using numerous French words without even realizing it!


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