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French Loanwords

This is a list of English language words whose origin can be traced to the French language. Loanwords are integrated words from a foreign language with orthography adapted for the receiving language.

WordMeaning
à gogo in abundance. It pertains to the familiar language in French.
à la [...] in the manner of/in a similar manner to [...]
à la carte on the card; (in restaurants refers to ordering individual dishes rather than a fixed-price meal)
à la mode fashionable; also, with ice cream (in the U.S.)
à propos regarding (note that the correct French syntax is à propos de)
abattoir slaughterhouse
accouchement confinement during childbirth; the process of having a baby; only this last meaning remains in French
adieu farewell; as it literally means "to God," it carries more weight than "au revoir" ("goodbye", literally "see you later"): it is definitive, implying you will never see the other person again. Depending on the context, misuse of this term can be considered as an insult, as you'll wish for the other person's death or will say that you don't wish to see the other person ever again while alive. It is used for "au revoir" in south of France and to point a deprivation from someone or something.
adroit skillful, clever, in French: habile, as a "right-handed" person would be using his "right" hand, as opposed to his left one with which he would be "gauche" meaning "left".
aide-de-camp camp assistant; assistant to a senior military officer
aide-mémoire memory aid; an object or memorandum to assist in remembrance, or a diplomatic paper proposing the major points of discussion
allez! go!, as in "go team!"
ancien régime a sociopolitical or other system that no longer exists, an allusion to pre-revolutionary France (used with capital letter in French with this meaning : Ancien Régime)
aperçu preview; a first impression; initial insight.
apéritif a before-meal drink (in familiar French, it is shortened as "un apéro"). In French : before-meal drink, not necessary followed by a meal. Cornerstone of French sociability.
appellation contrôlée supervised use of a name. For the conventional use of the term, see Appellation d'origine contrôlée
après moi, le déluge remark attributed to Louis XV of France; used in reference to the impending end of a functioning French monarchy and predicting the French Revolution. (After me, the deluge.) 617 Squadron Royal air Force famously known as The Dam Busters use this as their motto. Also a verse in the song Après Moi by Regina Spektor.
arête a narrow ridge. In French, also fishbone; edge of a polyhedron or graph; bridge of the nose.
armoire a type of cabinet; wardrobe.
art nouveau a style of decoration and architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (usually bears a capital in French : Art nouveau).
attaché a person attached to an embassy; in French is also the past participle of the verb attacher (=to fasten)
au contraire on the contrary.
au courant up-to-date; abreast of current affairs.
au fait being conversant in or with, or instructed in or with.
au jus literally, with juice, referring to a food course served with sauce. Often redundantly formulated, as in 'Open-faced steak sandwich, served with au jus.'. No longer used in French, except for the slang "être au jus" (to be informed)
au pair a young foreigner who does domestic chores in exchange for room and board. In France, those chores are mainly child care/education.
au revoir! See you later! In French a contraction of Au plaisir de vous revoir (to the pleasure of seeing you again).
avant-garde (pl. avant-gardes)applied to cutting-edge or radically innovative movements in art, music and literature; figuratively "on the edge", literally, a military term, meaning "vanguard" (which is the deformation of avant-garde) or "advance guard", in other words, "first to attack" (antonym of arrière-garde).
avant la lettre used to describe something or someone seen as a precursor or forerunner of something (such as an artistic or political movement) before that something was recognized and named, e.g. "a post-modernist avant la lettre", "a feminist avant la lettre"; the expression literally means before the letter, i.e. "before it had a name".
avec plaisir my pleasure (lit. "with pleasure")
ballet a classical type of dance
beau geste literally "beautiful gesture"; gracious gesture; also, a gesture noble in form but meaningless in substance. in French : a selfless/generous/fair-play act.
Beaux-Arts monumental architectural style of the early 20th century made famous by the Académie des Beaux-Arts
beaucoup plenty, lots of, much; merci beaucoup: thanks a lot; misused in slang, for example "beaucoup money" (French would add an article : "beaucoup d'argent"), especially in New Orleans, LA. Occasionally corrupted to Bookoo, typically in the context of French influenced by Vietnamese culture.
bel esprit (pl. beaux esprits) literally "fine mind"; a cultivated, highly intelligent person
belle a beautiful woman or girl. Common uses of this word are in the phrases the belle of the ball (the most beautiful woman or girl present at a function) and southern belle (a beautiful woman from the southern states of the US)
belles-lettres literally "fine letters"; literature regarded for its aesthetic value rather than its didactic or informative content; also, light, stylish writings, usually on literary or intellectual subjects
bien fait ! literally "well done"; used to express schadenfreude when someone is well-deservedly punished
bien pensant literally "well thinking"; right thinking, orthodox
blasé unimpressed with something because of over-familiarity, jaded.
bon appétit literally "good appetite"; enjoy your meal
bon mot well-chosen word(s), particularly a witty remark
bon vivant one who enjoys the good life, an epicurean
bon voyage have a good trip!
bonjour good day, the usual greeting
bonne chance good luck (as in, 'I wish you good luck')
les boules (vulgar) literally "the balls"; meaning that whatever you are talking about is dreadful
bourgeois member of the bourgeoisie. The word used to refer to shopkeepers living in towns in the Middle Ages. Now the term is derogatory, and it applies to a person whose beliefs, attitudes, and practices are conventionally middle-class.
bric-à-brac small ornamental objects, less valuable than antiques; a collection of old furniture, china, plate and curiosities. Cf. de bric et de broc, corresponding to our "by hook or by crook", and brack, refuse.
brioche a sweet yeast bun, kind of a crossover between a popover and a light muffin; French also use the term as slang for 'potbelly', because of the overhang effect.
brunette a brown-haired girl. For brown-haired man, French uses brun and for a woman brune. No more used in French, unlike brun(e), except in very old literature. The masculine form, brunet (for a boy) is even more rarely used.
bureau (pl. bureaux) office. Also means "desk" in French.
ça ne fait rien that doesn't matter; rendered as san fairy Ann in British WWI slang .
cachet lit. "stamp"; a distinctive quality ; quality, prestige.
café a coffee shop (also used in French for "coffee").
café au lait coffee with milk; or a light-brown color. In medicine, it is also used to describe a birthmark that is of a light-brown color (café au lait spot).
carte blanche unlimited authority; literally "white card" (i.e. blank check).
carte de visite a calling card, literally "visiting card".
carte d'identité identity card.
c'est bon that's good.
c'est la guerre ! That's War!; or "Such is war!" Often used with the meaning that "this means war", but it can be sometimes used as an expression to say that war (or life in general) is harsh but that one must accept it.
c'est la mode. Such is fashion.
c'est la vie ! That's life!; or "Such is life!" It is sometimes used as an expression to say that life is harsh but that one must accept it.
c'est magnifique ! That's great!; literally it's magnificent.
c'est pas grave it doesn't matter, it's not a big deal (informal).
Ceux qui rient le vendredi, pleureront le dimanche Those who laugh on Friday will cry on Sunday.
chacun ses goûts / à chacun ses goûts / à chacun son goût [all 3 are used] to each his (their) own taste(s).
chaise longue a long chair for reclining; (also rendered chaise lounge or chase lounge via folk etymology).
Champs-Élysées literally "Elysian Fields"; Avenue des Champs-Élysées, one of the largest boulevards in Paris. Often referred as simply "les Champs" ; l'"Élysée" (or "palais de l'Elysée") refers to the French Republic President's main residence, which is situated close to the Champs-Élysées. Figuratively, it also means the President himself (equivalent to the saying "the White House decided...").
chanteuse a female singer
chapeau a hat. In French, chapeau is also an expression of congratulations similar to the English "hats off to...."
chargé d'affaires a diplomat left in charge of day to day business at a diplomatic mission. Within the United States Department of State a chargé is any officer left in charge of the mission in the absence of the titular chief of mission.
charlatan a person who is a fraud, a fake, a hoaxer, a deceiver, a con artist.
châteaux en Espagne literally "castles in Spain"; imaginary projects, with little hope of realisation (means the same as "castles in the air" or "pie in the sky"). No known etymology, though it was already used in the 13th century in the Roman de la rose.
chauffeur driver
chef d'œuvre a masterpiece
cherchez la femme look for the woman, in the sense that, when a man behaves out of character or in an otherwise apparently inexplicable manner, the reason may be found in his trying to cover up an illicit affair with a woman, or to impress or gain favour with a woman. First used by Alexandre Dumas (père) in the third chapter of his novel Les Mohicans de Paris (1854).
chevalier d'industrie knight of industry : one who lives by his wits, specially by swindling.
chez at the house of : often used in the names of restaurants and the like; Chez Marie = "Marie's"
chic stylish
chignon a hairstyle worn in a roll at the nape of the neck
cinéma vérité realism in documentary filmmaking
cinq, cinque five; normally referring to the 5 on dice or cards. In French, always spelt cinq.
cliché lit. negative; trite through overuse; a stereotype
clique a small exclusive group of friends without morale; always used in a pejorative way in French.
commandant a commanding officer. In France, used for an airline pilot (le commandant de bord), in the Army as appellative for a chef de bataillon or a chef d'escadron (roughly equivalent to a major) or in the Navy for any officer from capitaine de corvette to capitaine de vaisseau (equivalent to the Army's majors, lieutenant-colonels and colonels) or for any officer heading a ship.
comme ci, comme ça like this, like that; so-so, neither good nor bad. In French, usu. couci-couça.
comme il faut as it must be : in accord with conventions or accepted standards; proper.
communiqué lit. communicated; an official communication.
concierge a hotel desk manager (in French also refers to the caretaker of a building usually living at the front floor ; concierges have a reputation for gossiping)
concordat an agreement; a treaty; when used with a capital C in French, it refers to the treaty between the French State and Judaeo-Christian religions during the French Empire (Napoleon) : priests, ministers and rabbis became civil servants. This treaty was abolished in 1905 (law Church-State separation) but is still in use in Alsace-Lorraine (those territories were under German administration during 1871–1918)
confrère a colleague, esp. in the medical and law professions.
congé a departure; in French when used in the plural form refers to vacations
conte a short story, a tale; in French a conte has usually a fantasy context (such as in fairytales) and always begins with the words "Il était une fois" ("Once upon a time").
contre-coupagainst the blow
contre-jouragainst daylight
contretemps an awkward clash; a delay
coquette a flirtatious girl; a tease
cordon sanitaire a policy of containment directed against a hostile entity or ideology; a chain of buffer states; lit. "quarantine line"
cortège a funeral procession; in French has a broader meaning and refers to all kinds of processions.
corvée forced labor for minimal or no pay. In French, overall an unpleasant/tedious task.
cotte d'armes coat of arms.
coup de foudre lit. thunderbolt ("strike of thunder"); used only in the context of love at first sight.
coup de grâce the final blow that results in victory (literally "blow of mercy"), historically used in the context of the battlefield to refer to the killing of badly wounded enemy soldiers, now more often used in a figurative context (e.g., business). Frequently pronounced without the final "s" sound by English speakers who believe that any such sound at the end of a French word is supposed to be silent.
coup de maître stroke of the master, master stroke
coup d'œil a glance, literally "a blow (or touch) of the eye".
coup de théâtre unexpected dramatic turn of events, a plot twist
couture fashion (usually refers to high fashion)
couturier a fashion designer (usually refers to high fashion, rather than everyday clothes design)
crèche a nativity display; more commonly (in UK), a place where children are left by their parents for short periods in the supervision of childminders; both meanings still exist in French
crème brûlée a dessert consisting primarily of custard and toasted sugar, that is, caramel; literally "burnt cream"
crème de la crème best of the best, "cream of the cream", used to describe highly skilled people or objects. A synonymous expression in French is « fin du fin ».
crème fraîche literally "fresh cream", a heavy cream slightly soured with bacterial culture, but not as sour or as thick as sour cream
crêpe a thin sweet or savoury pancake eaten as a light meal or dessert
cri du cœur cry from the heart : an impassioned outcry, as of entreaty or protest
croissant a crescent-shaped bread made of flaky pastry
cri d'amour a "cry of love"
critique a critical analysis or evaluation of a work, or the art of criticizing.
cuisine minceur gourmet cooking for staying thin
cul-de-sac a dead-end (residential) street; literally "bottom (buttocks) of the bag".
d'accord in accord; agreed; sure; OK; of course
de nouveau again; anew. Cf. de novo
de règle according to custom;
de rigueur required or expected, especially in fashion or etiquette
de trop excessive, "too much"
déclassé of inferior social status
décolleté a woman's garment with a low-cut neckline that exposes cleavage, or a situation in which a woman's chest or cleavage is exposed; décolletage is dealt with below.
décor the layout and furnishing of a room
découpage decoration with cut paper
demi-glace a reduced wine-based sauce for meats and poultry
demi-sec semi-dry, usually said of wine
déjà vu already seen : an impression or illusion of having seen or experienced something before.
dénouement the end result
dérailleur a bicycle gear-shift mechanism
dernier cri the latest fashion; literally "latest scream"
derrière rear; buttocks; literally "behind"
déshabillé partially clad or scantily dressed; also a special type of garment.
désolé sorry
détente easing of diplomatic tension
diablerie witchcraft, deviltry, or, more figuratively, "wickedness"
Dieu et mon droitmotto of the British Monarchy. It appears on a scroll beneath the shield of the coat of arms of the United Kingdom.
directeur sportiflit. sports director. A person responsible for the operation of a cycling team during a road bicycle race. In French, it means any kind of sports director.
divertissement an amusing diversion; entertainment
dossier a file containing detailed information about a person; it has a much wider meaning in modern French, as any type of file, or even a computer directory
douceur de vivre sweetness of life
doyen the senior member of a group; the feminine is doyenne
dressage a form of competitive horse training, in French has the broader meaning of taming any kind of animal
droit du seigneur right of the lord : the purported right of a lord in feudal times to take the virginity of one of his vassals' brides on her wedding night (in precedence to her new husband). The actual French term for this hypothetical custom is droit de cuissage (from cuisse 'thigh').
du jour said of something fashionable or hip for a day and quickly forgotten; today's choice on the menu, as soup du jour, literally "of the day"
eau de toilette perfume; can be shortened as eau (water); literally "grooming water." Usually refers to a product which is less expensive, because it has less aromatic compounds, and is thus used more for everyday purposes
écarté a card game; also a ballet position
échappé dance movement foot position
éclair a cream and chocolate icing pastry
éclat Great brilliance, as of performance or achievement. Conspicuous success. Great acclamation or applause
écorché flayed; biological graphic or model with skin removed
élan a distinctive flair or style
élan vital literally "vital ardor"; the vital force hypothesized by Henri Bergson as a source of efficient causation and evolution in nature; also called "life-force"
éminence grise grey eminence : a publicity-shy person with little formal power but great influence over those in authority
en bloc as a group
en passant in passing
en principe, oui in principle, yes : a diplomatic way of saying 'no'
en route on the way
(je suis) enchanté(e) (I am) enchanted (to meet you) : a formal greeting on receiving an introduction. Often shortened to simply "enchanté".
enfant terrible a disruptively unconventional person, a "terrible child".
ennui boredom.
entente diplomatic agreement or cooperation. L'Entente cordiale (the Cordial Entente) refers to the good diplomatic relationship between France and United Kingdom before the first World War.
entre nous confidentially; literally "between us"
entrée literally "entrance"; the first course of a meal (UK English); used to denote the main dish or course of a meal (US English).
entremets desserts/sweet dishes. More literally, a side dish that can be served between the courses of a meal.
entrepreneur a person who undertakes and operates a new enterprise or venture and assumes some accountability for the inherent risks
escargot snail
escritoire writing desk; spelled "écritoire" in current French
esprit de corps spirit of the body [group] : a feeling of solidarity among members of a group; morale. Often used in connection with a military force.
esprit de l'escalier wit of the stairs : a concise, clever statement you don't think of until too late, e.g. on the stairs leaving the scene
l'État, c'est moi! I am the state! — attributed to the archetypal absolute monarch, Louis XIV of France
étude a musical composition designed to provide practice in a particular technical skill in the performance of an instrument. French for "study".
excusez-moi excuse me; can be used sarcastically (depends on the tone)
excusez le mot ! excuse the word!; if a certain word has negative connotations (for example, a word-joke at a time of grief)
extraordinaire extraordinary, usually as a following adjective, as "musician extraordinaire"
et toi? and you? (Je m'appelle (your name), Et toi?)(my name is (your name) and yours?)
façade the front view of an edifice (from the Italian facciata, or face); a fake persona, as in "putting on a façade" (the ç is pronounced like an s)
fait accompli lit. accomplished fact; something that has already happened and is thus unlikely to be reversed. A done deal. In French only used in the expression "placer/mettre quelqu'un devant le fait accompli" meaning to present somebody with a fait accompli.
faute de mieux for want of better
faux false, ersatz, fake.
faux amis false friends : words in two different languages that have the same or similar spelling, and often the same etymology but different meanings, such as the French verb rester which means "to stay" rather than "to rest"
faux pas false step : violation of accepted, although unwritten, social rules
femme fatale deadly woman : an attractive woman who seduces and takes advantage of men in order to achieve personal goals after which she discards or abandons the victim. Used to describe an attractive woman with whom a relationship is likely to result, or has already resulted, in pain and sorrow
fiancé/e betrothed; lit. a man/woman engaged to be married.
fier de l'être proud of being; "French, and proud to be so"
film noir a genre of dark-themed movies from the 1940s and 1950s that focus on stories of crime and immorality
fils used after a man's surname to distinguish a son from a father, as George Bush fils (in French, "fils" = son)
fin de saison end of season : marks the end of an extended (annual) period during which business increases significantly, most commonly used for the end of summer tourism
flambé a cooking procedure in which alcohol (ethanol) is added to a hot pan to create a burst of flames, meaning "flamed" in French. Also used colloquially in reference to something on fire or burned.
flambeau a lit torch
flâneur a gentleman stroller of city streets; an aimless idler
fleur-de-lis a stylized-flower heraldic device; the golden fleur-de-lis on an azure background were the arms of the French Kingdom (often spelled with the old French style as "fleur-de-lys")
foie gras fatty liver; usually the liver of overfed goose, hence: pâté de foie gras, pâté made from goose liver. However, "foie gras" generally stands for "paté de foie gras" as it is the most common way to use it.
folie à deux a simultaneous occurrence of delusions in two closely related people, often said of an unsuitable romance
force majeure an overpowering event, an act of God (often appears in insurance contracts)
froideur coldness (for behavior and manners only)
gaffe blunder
garçon literally "boy" or "male servant"; sometimes used by English speakers to summon the attention of a male waiter (has a playful connotation in English but is condescending in French)
gauche tactless, does not mean "left-handed" (which is translated in French as "gaucher"), but does mean "left"
gaucherie boorishness
Gautier et Garguille all the world and his wife (possibly derived from a 17th century French comic Hugues Guérin, who performed under the stage name Gautier-Garguille, though it is likely that he in turn may have taken this pseudonym from earlier 16th century recorded sayings: prendre Gautier pour Garguille: "to take Gautier for Garguille", that is to mistake one person for another; il n'y a ni Gautier, ni Garguille: "he is neither Gaultier nor Garguille", that is, 'he is no-one')
genre a type or class, such as "the thriller genre"
glissade slide down a slope
les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas tastes and colours are not argued over; one does not argue over differences in taste, to each his own. French People usually shorten the sentence, to "les goûts et les couleurs..."
grâce à thanks to, "by the grace of", naming credit or fortune
Grand Prix a type of motor racing, literally "Great Prize"
grand projet literally "large project"; usually a government funded large scale civil engineering or technology project executed for prestige or general social benefit, and not immediately (if ever) profitable
Grand Guignol a horror show, named after a French theater famous for its frightening plays and bloody special effects. (Guignol can be used in French to describe a ridiculous person, in the same way that clown might be used in English.)
habitué one who regularly frequents a place
haute couture high sewing : Paris-based custom-fitted clothing; trend-setting fashion
haute cuisine upscale gastronomy; literally "upper cooking".
haute école advanced horsemanship; literally "upper school"
hauteur arrogance; lit. height
haut monde fashionable society, the "upper world"
homme du monde cultured, sophisticated man, "man of the world"
Honi soit qui mal y pense. Shame on him who thinks ill of it; or sometimes translated as Evil be to him who evil thinks; the motto of the English Order of the Garter (modern French writes honni instead of Old French honi)
hors concours out of the running; a non-competitor, e.g. in love
hors de combat out of the fight : prevented from fighting, usually by injury
hors d'œuvre outside the [main] work : appetizer
huis-clos closed door : an enclosed space such as a room or cell, where action or speech can not be seen or heard from outside; title of a play by Jean-Paul Sartre
idée fixe fixed idea: obsession; in music, a leitmotiv.
impasse a deadlock.
insouciant/e a nonchalant man/woman
ingénu/e an innocent young man/woman, used particularly in reference to a theatrical stock character who is entirely virginal and wholesome. L'Ingénu is a famous play written by Voltaire.
j’accuse I accuse; used generally in reference to a political or social indictment (alluding to the title of Émile Zola’s exposé of the Dreyfus affair, a political scandal which divided France from the 1890s to the early 1900s which involved the false conviction for treason in 1894 of a young French artillery officer of Jewish background)
j'adore literally, I adore. I love to the full extent.
j'adoube In chess, an expression said discreetly signaling an intention to straighten out the pieces, without being committed to moving or capturing the first one touched as per the game's rules; lit. "I adjust". From adouber, to dub (the action of knighting someone)
Jacques Bonhomme a name given to a French peasant as tamely submissive to taxation. Also the pseudonym of the 14th century peasant leader Guillaume Caillet
je m'appelle my name is...
je m'en fous I don't give a damn / a fuck.
je ne regrette rien I regret nothing (from the title of a popular song sung by Édith Piaf: "Non, je ne regrette rien"). Also the phrase the UK's then Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont chose to use to describe his feelings over the events of September 16, 1992 ('Black Wednesday')
je ne sais pas I don't know; collapses to chais pas ʃɛpa in modern colloquial speech
je ne sais quoi I-don't-know-what : an indescribable or indefinable 'something' which distinguishes the object in question from others which are superficially similar.
je t'aime I love you. Implies "I like you" too. The French word "aimer" implies all the different kinds of love (love = like). In order to differentiate the two, one would say simply "je t'aime" to one's love whereas one would say "je t'aime bien" (lit. I love you well) to a friend.
je suis I am
jeunesse dorée gilded youth; name given to a body of young dandies who, after the fall of Robespierre, strove to bring about a counter-revolution. Today used for any offspring living an affluent lifestyle.
joie de vivre joy of life/living
laissez-faire let do; often used within the context of economic policy or political philosophy, meaning leaving alone, or non-interference. The phrase is the shortcut of Laissez faire, laissez passer, a doctrine first supported by the Physiocrats in the 18th century. The motto was invented by Vincent de Gournay, and it became popular among supporters of free-trade and economic liberalism. It is also used to describe a parental style in developmental psychology, where the parent(s) does not apply rules nor guiding.
laissez-passer a travel document, a passport
laissez les bons temps rouler Cajun expression for "let the good times roll": not used in proper French, and not generally understood by Francophones outside of Louisiana, who would say "profitez des bons moments" (enjoy the good moments)
lamé a type of fabric woven or knit with metallic yarns
lanterne rouge the last-place finisher in a cycling stage race; most commonly used in connection with the Tour de France
layette a set of clothing and accessories for a new baby
lèse majesté an offense against a sovereign power; or, an attack against someone's dignity or against a custom or institution held sacred (from the Latin "crimen laesae maiestatis": the crime of injured majesty)
liaison a close relationship or connection; an affair. The French meaning is broader; "liaison" also means bond such as in "une liaison chimique" (a chemical bond)
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood (motto of the French Republic)
lieu from Latin locus ("place"); in lieu of: "instead of", "in the place of". This is illustrated for instance in the English word "lieutenant", which literally means "place-holder"
littérateur an intellectual (can be pejorative in French, meaning someone who writes a lot but does not have a particular skill)
louche of questionable taste;
Louis Quatorze Louis XIV (of France), the Sun King, usually a reference to décor or furniture design. Also the namesake of the winner of the 1996 Preakness.
Louis Quinze Louis XV (of France), associated with the rococo style of furniture, architecture and interior decoration
macramé coarse lace work made with knotted cords
mademoiselle young unmarried lady, miss; literally "my noble young lady"
mais oui but of course!. Often used as a sarcastic reply in French, in order to close the debate by feigning to agree.
maison house
malaise a general sense of depression or unease
mange tout another phrase describing 'peas' (litt : "Eat-all", due to the fact that some peas can be cooked and eaten with their pod.)
mal de mer motion sickness, literally "seasickness"
Mardi gras Fat Tuesday, the last day of eating meat before Lent. Note that there isn't a capital to gras
marque a model or brand
matériel supplies and equipment, particularly in a military context (French meaning is broader and corresponds more to "hardware")
mauvais quart d'heure bad quarter hour : a short unpleasant or uncomfortable moment
mélange a mixture
mêlée a confused fight; a struggling crowd
ménage à trois household for three : a sexual arrangement between three people
merci beaucoup Thank you very much!
merde shit
merde alors shit then
métier a field of work or other activity; usually one in which one has special ability or training
milieu social environment; setting (has also the meaning of "middle" in French.)
mirepoix a cooking mixture of two parts onions and one part each of celery and carrots
mise en place a food assembly station in a commercial kitchen
mise en scène the process of setting a stage with regard to placement of actors, scenery, properties, etc.; the stage setting or scenery of a play; surroundings, environment
moi me; often used in English as an ironic reply to an accusation; for example, "Pretentious? Moi?"
moi aussi me too, used to show agreeing with someone
le moment suprême the supreme moment; the climax in a series of events (for example at the unveiling of an art exhibition)
Mon Dieu! my God!
monsieur (pl. messieurs) a man, a gentleman. Also used as a title, equivalent to Mr. or Sir.
montage a blending of pictures, scenes, or sounds
le mot juste the just word; the right word at the right time. French uses it often in the expression chercher le mot juste (to search for the right word)
motif a recurrent thematic element
moue a pursing together of the lips to indicate dissatisfaction, a pout
mousse a whipped dessert or a hairstyling foam; in French, means any type of foam
natation swimming
né, née born : a man/woman’s birth name (maiden name for a woman), e.g., "Martha Washington, née Custis".
n'est-ce pas? isn't it [true]?; asked rhetorically after a statement, as in "Right?"
noblesse oblige nobility obliges; those granted a higher station in life have a duty to extend (possibly token) favours/courtesies to those in lower stations
nom de guerre pseudonym to disguise the identity of a leader of a militant group, literally "war name", used in France for "pseudonym"
nom de plume author's pseudonym, literally "pen name". Originally an English phrase, now also used in France
nouveau new
nouveau riche newly rich, used in English to refer particularly to those living a garish lifestyle with their newfound wealth.
nouvelle cuisine new cuisine
nouvelle vague Literally meaning "new wave". Used for stating a new way or a new trend of something. Originally marked a new style of French filmmaking in the late 1950s and early 1960s, reacting against films seen as too literary (whereas the phrase "new wave" is used in French to qualify some '80's music, such as Depeche Mode.)
objet d'art a work of art, commonly a painting or sculpture
œuvre work, in the sense of an artist's work; by extension, an artist's entire body of work
orange orange
ouais yeah
oui yes
panache verve; flamboyance
papier-mâché lit. chewed paper; a craft medium using paper and paste
par avion by air mail. The meaning is broader in French, it means by plane in general.
par excellence by excellence : quintessential
pas de deux a close relationship between two people; a duet in ballet
pas de problème no problem
pas de trois a dance for three, usually in ballet.
passe-partout a document or key that allows the holder to travel without hindrance from the authorities and enter any location.
pastiche a derivative work; an imitation
patois a dialect; jargon
père used after a man's surname to distinguish a father from a son, as in "George Bush père."
la petite mort an expression for orgasm; literally "the little death"
peut-être perhaps, possibly, maybe
pied-à-terre foot-on-the-ground or "foothold"; a place to stay, generally applied to the city house in contradistinction to the country estate of the wealthy
pis-aller worse; an undesirable option selected because the other choices were even worse
piste referring to skiing at a ski area (on piste) versus skiing in the back country (off piste).
plat du jour a dish served in a restaurant on a particular day but which is not part of the regular menu; literally "dish of the day"
plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (or plus ça change, plus c’est pareil) the more things change, the more they stay the same
plus royaliste que le roi more royalist than the king, i.e. more enthusiastic than the cause deserves
pomme apple
porte cochère an architectural term referring to a kind of porch or portico-like structure.
poseur poser : a person who pretends to be something he is not; an affected or insincere person: a wannabe
pot-au-feu stew, soup
pour encourager les autresto encourage others; said of an excessive punishment meted out as an example. The original is from Voltaire's Candide and referred to the execution of Admiral John Byng.
pourboire for drink; gratuity, tip; donner un pourboire: to tip.
prêt-à-porter ready to wear (clothing off the shelf), in contrast to haute couture
première dame first lady
protégé/e a man/woman who receives support from an influential mentor.
provocateur a polemicist
Quai d'Orsay address of the French foreign ministry in Paris, used to refer to the ministry itself.
Quatorze juillet 14th July Bastille Day. The beginning of the French Revolution in 1789; used to refer to the Revolution itself and its ideals. It is the French National Day.
quel dommage! What a pity!
quelle horreur! What a horrible thing! (can be used sarcastically).
quelle surprise! What a surprise!
Qu'est-ce que c'est ? What is this/that?
qui vive ? who is living? (modern language : who is here ?) : a sentry's challenge. Obsolete, but for the expressions "sur le qui-vive" (literally "on the point of saying qui vive") — on the alert, vigilant — and "il n'y a pas âme qui vive" (litterally "no soul is/lives here", soul meaning person).
quoi de neuf? What's new? What's up?
raconteur a conversationalist
raison d'État reason of state (always with a capital "É" in French).
raison d'être reason for being : justification or purpose of existence
rapport to be in someone's "good graces"; to be in synch with someone; "I've developed a rapport with my co-workers"; French for: relationship
rapprochement the establishment of cordial relations, often used in diplomacy
reconnaissance scouting; like connoisseur, modern French use a "a", never a "o" (as in reconnoissance).
reportage reporting; journalism
répondez s'il vous plaît. (RSVP) Please reply. Though francophones may use more usually "prière de répondre", it is common enough. (Note: RSLP ["Répondre s'il lui plaît"] is used on old-fashioned invitations written in the 3rd person, usually in "Script" typography — at least in Belgium.)
ressentiment a deep-seated sense of aggrievement and powerlessness
restaurateur a restaurant owner
Rive Gauche the left (southern) bank (of the River Seine in Paris). A particular mindset attributed to inhabitants of that area, which includes the Sorbonne
roi fainéant do-nothing king : an expression first used about the kings of France from 670 to 752 (Thierry III to Childeric III), who were puppets of their ministers. The term was later used about other royalty who had been made powerless, also in other countries, but lost its meaning when parliamentarism made all royals powerless.
rôle a part or function of a person in a situation or an actor in a play
roman à clef novel with a key : an account of actual persons, places or events in fictional guise
roux a cooked mixture of flour and fat used as a base in soups and gravies
sabotage subversive destruction, from the practice of workers fearful of industrialization destroying machines by tossing their sabots ("wooden shoes") into machinery
saboteur one who commits sabotage
Sacrebleu! holy Blue! general exclamation of horror and shock; a stereotypical minced oath. Very dated in France and rarely heard.
sang-froid cold blood : coolness and composure under strain; stiff upper lip. Also pejorative in the phrase meurtre de sang-froid ("cold-blooded murder").
sans without
sans-culottes without knee-pants, a name the insurgent crowd in the streets of Paris gave to itself during the French Revolution, because they usually wore pantaloons (full-length pants or trousers) instead of the chic knee-length culotte of the nobles. In modern use: holding strong republican views.
saperlipopette goodness me
sauté lit. jumped ; quickly fry in a small amount of oil.
sauve qui peut! those who can should save themselves. Used as a pragmatic response to an accident. Equivalent to the English "every man for himself".
savant knowing : a wise or learned person; in English, one exceptionally gifted in a narrow skill.
savoir-faire literally "know how to do"; to respond appropriately to any situation.
savoir-vivre fact of following conventional norms within a society; etiquette (etiquette also comes from a French word, "étiquette")
s'il vous plaît (SVP)if it pleases you, "if you please"
si vous préférez if you prefer
sobriquet an assumed name, a nickname (often used in a pejorative way in French)
soi-disant so-called; self-described; literally "oneself saying"
soigné fashionable; polished
soirée an evening party
sommelier a wine steward
soupçon a very small amount (In French, can also mean suspicion)
soupe du jour soup of the day, meaning the particular kind of soup offered that day
succès d’estime a "success in the estimation of others", sometimes used pejoratively
il faut souffrir pour être bellebeauty does not come without suffering ; lit. "you have to suffer to be pretty"
sur le tas as one goes along; on the fly
Système D resourcefulness, or ability to work around the system; from débrouillard, one with the knack of making do. A typical phrase using this concept would translate directly to "Thanks to System D, I managed to fix this cupboard without the missing part."
tableau chalkboard. The meaning is broader in French : all type of board (chalkboard, whiteboard, notice board...). Refers also to a painting (see tableau vivant, below) or a table (chart).
tant mieux so much the better.
tant pis too bad, "oh well, that's tough".
tête-à-tête head to head; an intimate get-together or private conversation between two people.
toilette the process of dressing or grooming. Also refers in French, when plural ("les toilettes"), to the toilet room.
torsade de pointes meaning "twisting around a point", used to describe a particular type of heart rhythm.
touché acknowledgment of an effective counterpoint; literally "touched" or "hit!" Comes from the fencing vocabulary.
tour de force feat of strength : a masterly or brilliant stroke, creation, effect, or accomplishment.
tout de suite lit. everything (else) follows; "at once", "immediately" (per Oxford English Dictionary).
très very (often ironic in English)
très beau very beautiful
trompe-l'œil photograph-like realism in painting; literally "trick the eye"
unique One of a kind. Unique is considered a paradigmatic absolute and therefore something cannot be very unique.
vas-y! Go Ahead! Used to encourage someone (pronounced vah-zee)
va-t'en! imperative form, like above, literally meaning "Go from here" but translating more closely as "Go away". Roughly equivalent to idiomatic English get lost or get out.
vendu (pl. vendus) sellout. Lit. sold (past tense of "vendre" = to sell); used as a noun, it means someone who betrays for money.
venu/e invited man/woman for a show, once ("come"); unused in modern French, though it can still be used in a few expressions like bienvenu/e (literally well come : welcome) or le premier venu (anyone; literally, the first who came).
vin de pays literally "county wine"; wine of a lower designated quality than appellation controlée
vinaigrette salad dressing of oil and vinegar; diminutive of vinaigre (vinegar)
vis-à-vis face to face [with] : in comparison with or in relation to; opposed to. From "vis" (conjugated form of "voir", to see). In French, it's also a real estate vocabulary word meaning that your windows and your neighbours' are within sighting distance (more precisely, that you can see inside of their home).
viva, vive [...]! Long live...!; lit. "Live"; as in "Vive la France!", "Vive la République!", “Vive la Résistance!”, "Vive le Canada!", or "Vive le Québec libre!" (long live free Quebec, a sovereigntist slogan famously used by French President Charles de Gaulle in 1967 in Montreal). Unlike "viva" or "vivat", it cannot be used as such, it needs a complement.
vive la différence! [long] live the difference; originally referring to the difference between the sexes, the phrase may be used to celebrate the difference between any two groups of people (or simply the general diversity of individuals)
voilà! literally "see there"; in French it can mean simply "there it is"; in English it is generally restricted to a triumphant revelation.
volte-face a complete reversal of opinion or position, about face
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir) ? Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)? In English it appears in Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as in the lyrics of a popular song by Labelle, "Lady Marmalade". In French, it is a rude and cheesy pick-up line ("coucher" is vulgar in French).
voyeur lit. someone who sees; a peeping tom.
le zinc bar/café counter.
zut alors! Darn it all! or the British expression "Blimey!", a general exclamation. Just plain zut is also in use — often repeated for effect, for example, zut, zut et zut! There is an album by Frank Zappa titled Zoot Allures.
Through the evolution of the language, there are many words and phrases that are not used anymore in French. Also, there are those which, even though they are grammatically correct, are not used as such in French or do not have the same meaning. 
accoutrement personal military or fighting armaments worn about one's self; has come to mean the accompanying items available to pursue a mission. In French, means a funny or ridiculous clothing; often a weird disguise or a getup, though it can be said also for people with bad taste in clothing.
agent provocateur a police spy who infiltrates a group to disrupt or discredit it. In French it has both a broader and more specific meaning. The Académie française, in its dictionary, says that an agent provocateur is a person working for another State or a political party (for examples), whose mission is to provoke troubles in order to justify repression.
appliqué an inlaid or attached decorative feature. Lit. "applied", though this meaning doesn't exist as such in French, the dictionary of the Académie française indicates that in the context of the arts, "arts appliqués" is synonym of decorative arts.
après-ski after skiing socializing after a ski session; in French, this word refers to boots used to walk in snow (e.g. MoonBoots).
artiste a skilled performer, a person with artistic pretentions. In French : an artist. Can be used ironically for a person demonstrating little professional skills or passion.
auteur A film director, specifically one who controls most aspects of a film, or other controller of an artistic situation. The English connotation derives from French film theory. It was popularized in the journal Cahiers du cinéma: auteur theory maintains that directors like Hitchcock exert a level of creative control equivalent to the author of a literary work. In French, the word means author, but some expressions like "cinéma d'auteur" are also in use.
au naturel nude; in French, literally, in a natural manner or way ("au" is the contraction of "à le", masculine form of "à la"). It means "in an unaltered way" and can be used either for people or things. For people, it rather refers to a person who doesn't use make-up or artificial manners (un entretien au naturel = a backstage interview). For things, it means that they weren't altered. Often used in cooking, like "thon au naturel" : canned tuna without any spices or oil. Also in heraldry, meaning "in natural colours", especially flesh colour, which is not one of the "standard" colours of heraldry.
baguette a long, narrow loaf of bread with a crispy crust, otherwise called 'French bread' in the United Kingdom and United States. In French, a "baguette" refers to many objects which are long and narrow, including some kind of bread described above (which has also some subvarieties), a magical wand or chopsticks. Also, there are many varieties of bread, and some "French bread" are not called in France "baguette", but rather "épi" or "ficelle".
bête noire a scary or unpopular person, idea, or thing, or the archetypical scary monster in a story; literally "black beast." In French, "être la bête noire de quelqu'un" ("to be somebody's bête noire") means that you're particularly hated by this person or this person has a strong aversion against you, regardless of whether you're scary or not. It can only be used for people.
bureau de change (pl. bureaux de change)a currency exchange. In French, it means the office where you can change your currency.
c'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre it is magnificent, but it is not war — quotation from Marshal Pierre Bosquet commenting on the charge of the Light Brigade. Unknown quotation in French.
cap-à-pied from head to foot; modern French uses de pied en cap.
cause célèbre An issue arousing widespread controversy or heated public debate, lit. famous cause. It's correct grammatically, but the expression is not used in French.
cinq à sept extraconjugal affair between five and seven pm. In French, though it can also mean this, it primarily means any relaxing time with friends between the end of work and the beginning of the marital obligations.
chanson 1) a classical "art song," equiv. to the German lied or the Italian aria; or 2) in Russian, a cabaret-style sung narrative, usually rendered by a guttural male voice with guitar accompaniment. In French, it simply means a song.
claque a group of admirers; in old French, the claque was a group of people paid to applaud or disturb a piece at the theater; in modern French, it means "a slap"; "clique" is used in this sense (but in a pejorative way).
coiffeur hairstyle. In French, means a hairstylist, a hairdresser, a barber.
connoisseur an expert in wines, fine arts, or other matters of culture; a person of refined taste. It is spelled connaisseur in modern French.
coup de main (pl. coups de main)a surprise attack. In French, "[donner] un coup de main" means "[to give] a hand" (to give assistance). Even if the English meaning exists as well, it is old-fashioned.
coup d'état (pl. coups d'État)a sudden change in government by force; literally "hit (blow) of state". French uses the capital É, because using or not a capital change the sense of the word (État : a State, as in a country; état : a state of being).
crudité an appetizer consisting of grated raw vegetables soaked in a vinaigrette. In French, it means uncooked vegetable, traditionally served as an entrée (first part of the meal, contrary to an appetizer which is considered as outside of the meal), with or without a vinaigrette or another sauce. Almost always used in the plural form in French (as in, crudités).
début first public performance of an entertainment personality or group. In French, it means "beginning". The English sense of the word exist only when in plural form : "[faire] ses débuts [sur scène]" (to make one's débuts on the scene).
décolletage a low-cut neckline, cleavage (This is actually a case of "false friends": Engl. décolletage = Fr. décolleté; Fr. décolletage means: 1. action of lowering a female garment's neckline; 2. Agric.: cutting leaves from some cultivated roots such as beets, carrots, etc.; 3. Tech. Operation consisting of making screws, bolts, etc. one after another out of a single bar of metal on a parallel lathe.
déjà entendu/lualready heard/read. They do not exist as an expression in French: the Académie française says that un déjà vu (a feeling of something already seen) can be used but not un déjà entendu or un déjà lu.
démarche a decisive step. In French, it means all the different kinds of manners you can walk.
dépanneur a neighbourhood general/convenience store, term used in eastern Canada (often shortened to "dép" or "dep"). In French, it means a repairman. A convenience store would be a "supérette" or "épicerie [de quartier]".
émigré one who has emigrated for political reasons. In French, it means someone who emigrated. To imply the political reason, French would use of the word "exilé" (exiled).
encore A request to repeat a performance, as in “Encore !”, lit. again; also used to describe additional songs played at the end of a gig. Francophones would say « Bis ! » (a second time !); or « Une autre ! » (Another one !) to request « un rappel » (an encore).
en masse in a mass or group, all together. In French, 'mass' only refers to a physical mass, whether for people or objects. It cannot be used for something immaterial, like, for example, the voice : "they all together said 'get out'" would be translated as "ils ont dit 'dehors' en choeur" ([like a chorus]). Also, 'en masse' refers to numerous people or objects (a crowd or a mountain of things).
en suite as a set (do not confuse with "ensuite", meaning "then"). In French, "suite", when in the context of a hotel, already means several rooms following each other. "J'ai loué une suite au Ritz" would be translated as "I rented a suite at the Ritz". "En suite" is not grammatically incorrect in French, but it's not an expression in itself and it is not used.
épée a fencing foil. In French, apart from fencing (the sport) the term is more generic : it means sword.
escritoirea writing table. It is spelt écritoire in modern French.
exposé a published exposure of a fraud or scandal (past participle of "to expose"); in French refers to a talk or a report on any kind of subject.
extraordinaireextraordinary, out of the ordinary capacity for a person. In French, it simply means extraordinary (adjective) and can be used for either people, things or concepts. The rule that systematically puts 'extraordinary' after the noun in English is also wrong, because in French, an adjective can be put before the noun to emphasize - which is particularly the case for the adjective 'extraordinaire'. In fact, French people would just as well use 'un musicien extraordinaire' as 'un extraordinaire musicien' (an extraordinary male musician, but the latter emphasizes his being extraordinary).
femme a stereotypically effeminate gay man or lesbian (slang, pronounced as written). In French, femme (pronounced 'fam') means "woman".
fin de siècle comparable to (but not exactly the same as) turn-of-the-century but with a connotation of decadence, usually applied to the period from 1890 through 1910. In French, it means "end of the century", but it isn't a recognized expression as such.
foible a minor weakness or quirkiness. The word is spelt faible in French and means "weak" (adjective). Weakness is translated as faiblesse (noun).
forte a strength, a strong point, typically of a person, from the French fort (strong) and/or Italian forte (strong, esp. "loud" in music) and/or Latin forte (neutral form of fortis, strong). French use "fort" both for people and objects.
fromage cheese. Used in place of Say cheese. when taking pictures of people to get them to smile, one would utter Say fromage. French people would use the English word "cheese" or "ouistiti".
la sauce est toutThe sauce is everything! or "The secret's in the sauce!" Tagline used in a 1950s American TV commercial campaign for an American line of canned food products. Grammatically correct but not used in French, where one might say "Tout est dans la sauce" or "C'est la sauce qui fait (passer) le poisson" (also fig.).
marquee the sign above a theater that tells you what's playing. From "marquise" which not only means a marchioness but also an awning. Theater buildings are generally old and nowadays there's never such a sign above them anymore; there's only the advertisement for the play (l'affiche).
naïve a man or woman lacking experience, understanding or sophistication. In French, it only refers to the latest two and often has a pejorative connotation, as in gullible. Also, naïve can only be used for women; the masculine form is "naïf".
ooh la la! wowie! Expression of exaggerated feminine delight; variation of an expression more commonly used by the French, "oh la la!" which means "yikes!" or "uh-oh!" The "wowie" intent does exist in French, but is not as pretentious as the English usage.
outré out of the ordinary, unusual. In French, it means outraged (for a person) or exaggerated, extravagant, overdone (for a thing, esp. a praise, an actor's style of acting, etc.) (In that second meaning, belongs to "literary" style.)
passé out of fashion. The correct expression in French is "passé de mode". Passé means past, passed, or (for a colour) faded.
peignoira woman’s dressing gown. In French it is a bathrobe. A dressing gown is a "robe de chambre" (lit. a bedroom dress).
petite small; waiflike; skinny; In French, it only means small and does not have those other connotations it has in English. Also, this is the feminine form of the adjective (used for girls...); the masculine form is "petit".
philosophe a French intellectual and writer of the Enlightenment. In French, it applies to any philosopher.
pièce d'occasion occasional piece; item written or composed for a special occasion. In French, it means "second-hand hardware". Can be shortened as "pièce d'occas'" or even "occas'" (pronounced "okaz").
portemanteau (pl. portemanteaux)a blend; a word which fuses two or more words or parts of words to give a combined meaning. In French, lit. a carry coat, referred to a person who carried the royal coat or dress train, now meaning a large suitcase; more often, a clothes hanger. The equivalent of the English "portemanteau" is un mot-valise (lit. a suitcase word).
potpourri medley, mixture; French write it "pot-pourri", lit. rotten pot (it is primarily a pot where you put different kind of flowers or spices and let it dry for years for its scent).
précis a concise summary. In French, when talking about a school course, it means an abridged book about the matter.
premier prime minister or head of government. In French, it is only an adjective meaning "first".
première refers to the first performance of a play, a film, etc. In French, it means "the first", and only for a live performance; it cannot be used as a verb ("the film premiered on November" is the equivalent of "the film firsted in November").
recherché lit. searched; obscure; pretentious. In French, means sophisticated or delicate, or simply studied, without the negative connotations of the English.
résumé in North American English, a document listing one's qualifications for employment. In French, it means summary; they would use instead curiculum vitæ, or its abbreviation, C.V..
rendezvous lit. "go to"; a meeting, appointment, or date. Always in two words in French, as in "rendez-vous". Its abbreviation is RDV.
risqué sexually suggestive; in French, the meaning of risqué is "risky", with no sexual connotation. Francophones use instead "osé" (lit. "daring") or sometimes "dévergondé" (very formal language). "Osé", unlike "dévergondé", cannot be used for people themselves, only for things (pictures...) or attitudes.
table d'hôte (pl. tables d'hôte)a full-course meal offered at a fixed price. In French, it is a type of lodging where, unlike a hotel, you eat with other patrons and the host. Lit. "the host's table" : you eat at the host's table whatever he prepared for him or herself, at the family's table, with a single menu. Generally, the menu is composed of traditional courses of the region & the number of patrons is very limited.
tableau vivant (pl. tableaux vivants, often shortened as tableau)in drama, a scene in which actors remain still as if in a picture. Tableau means painting, tableau vivant, living painting. In French, it is an expression used in body painting.
vignette a brief description; a short scene. In French, it is a small picture.
après-garde Avant-garde's antonym. French (and most English speakers) uses arrière-garde (either in a military or artistic context).
art deco a style of decoration and architecture of the early 20th century made famous by the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes. Spelt "art déco" (note the accent) in French.
brassiere French use brassière (note the accent). Also, the French equivalent of "bra" would be "un soutien-gorge" (which can be familiarly abbreviated as soutif). A "brassière", in French, is a special kind of woman undergarment for sports ; larger than a simple "soutien-gorge", it offers a better support of the breast.
cinquefoil five-petal, five-leaf flower of the genus Potentilla, family Rosaceae; also a circular 5-lobed ornamental design. Spelt quintefeuille in French.
corduroy Suggested as "corde du roi" ("the king's cord") but this doesn't exist in French. More likely from 1780 American English "cord" and 17th "duroy", a coarse fabric made in England.
demimonde a class of women of ill repute; a fringe group or subculture. Fell out of use in the French language in the 19th century. Frenchmen still use "une demi-mondaine" to qualify a woman that lives (exclusively or partially) of the commerce of her charms but in a high-life style.
demitasse small cup, usually for coffee. Comes from "une demi-tasse", literally a half cup. It's not an expression as such in French.
double entendre double meaning. French would use either "un mot / une phrase à double sens" (a word / a sentence with two meanings) or "un sous-entendu" (a hidden meaning). The verb entendre, to hear (modern), originally meant to understand. "Double entendre" has, however, been found previously in French documents dating back to the 15th century.[citation needed] The dictionary of the Académie française lists the expression "à double entente" as obsolete.
homage term used for films that are influenced by other films, in particular by the works of a notable director. French word is written "hommage", and is used for all shows of admiration, respect, or in a close sense for dedication of an artwork to another.
léger de main light of hand : sleight of hand, usually in the context of deception or the art of stage magic tricks. Means nothing in French and has no equivalent.
maître d’ translates as master o'. Francophones would say maître d’hôtel (head waiter) instead (French never uses "d'" alone).
negligee A robe or a dressing gown, usually of sheer or soft fabric for women. French uses négligé (masculine form, with accents) or nuisette. Négligée qualifies a woman who neglects her appearance.
parkour urban street sport involving climbing and leaping, using buildings, walls, curbs to ricochet off much as if one were on a skateboard, often in follow-the-leader style. It's actually the phonetic form of the French word "parcours", which means "course".
pièce de résistance the best; the main meal, literally "a piece that resists". Francophones use plat de résistance (main dish).
repertoire the range of skills of a particular person or group. It is spelt répertoire, in French ; also, the meaning is slightly different : it means the range of songs / musics a person or group can play.
reservoir a holding tank for liquids; an artificial pond for water. It is spelt réservoir, in French.
succès de scandale Success through scandal; Francophones might use « succès par médisance ».
voir dire jury selection (Law French). Literally "to speak the truth". (Anglo-Norman voir [truth] is etymologically unrelated to the modern French voir [to see].)
Source: Wikipedia - List of French words and phrases used by English speakers