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The French words we use in everyday English conversations

PUBLISHED: 14:34 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:34 19 April 2017

Apéritif is a French word used in everyday English © StGrafix / Thinkstockphotos

Apéritif is a French word used in everyday English © StGrafix / Thinkstockphotos


Some words just sound better in French! These are some of the French words we use in everyday conversation – you might not even realise that they are French


An alcoholic drink taken before dinner to stimulate your appetite

Bon appétit

Used as a salutation to a person about to eat


A picture or imitation of a person in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated for comic effect

Carte blanche

Complete freedom to act as one wishes


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Elegant and stylishly fashionable, often used to describe the way French women dress


A very predictable or unoriginal thing or person, a stereotype


A highly successful surprise manoeuvre, often used to describe a sudden seizure of power from a government


A feeling of having already experienced the present situation


A call for a repeated or additional performance of an item at the end of a concert


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A person who sets up a business


A report in the media that reveals something discreditable


The principal front of a building or a deceptive outward appearance

Fait accompli

A thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them no option but to accept it


A man or woman to whom one is engaged to be married


A sudden shudder of emotion, often excitement or fear


A style or category of art, music or literature

Je ne sais quoi

A quality that cannot be described or named easily

Joie de vivre

An enjoyment of life


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Let things take their own course without interfering


A decorative image or design especially a reported one forming a pattern or a dominant or recurring idea in an artistic work

Raison d’être

The most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence


A summary or a CV


‘Réponez s’il vous plaît’, used at the end of invitations to request a response


The ability to do the right thing in every situation


An evening party or social gathering, typically in a private house


The complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography and climate


The acknowledgement of a good or clever point made at one’s expense during a discussion or a scoring hit has been recorded in fencing.

Trompe l’oeil

A visual illusion in art, especially used to trick the eye into perceiving a painted detail as a three-dimensional object


Used to express success or satisfaction


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