The Chicest French Words You Should Start Using

By  Kevin Heintz

By Kevin Heintz

If you speak English, you already speak some French. Even if an American has never struggled through a high school French class, he or she uses French daily. This phenomenon began in 1066 when William the Conqueror of Normandy invaded England. After his conquest, the British nobility used William’s language, Anglo-Norman French, for centuries to come. Anglo-Norman French introduced about 10,000 words into Middle English. Additional French words have found their way into our language ever since. 

Continuing this tradition, Finesse Report’s current favorite French words are compiled below. Impress intellectuals, sophisticates, and try-hards by sprinkling words and phrases from the following list into conversation. 

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1. Grossier is an adjective describing rudeness. Because the English word “gross” is in the word, anyone will understand what it means. Ex: Stop blowing your nose in the cloth napkin—you’re being grossier. (The r is silent, meaning the –ier is pronounced as the literal English sound of the letters E.A.)

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2. Saladier is a salad bowl. It’s a simple word that sounds infinitely more sophisticated than saying “salad bowl.” Ex: Sebastian, I must prepare my Waldorf salad—bring me the saladier.

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3. Métro-boulot-dodo refers to the daily grind (usually in Paris). It literally means “subway, work, sleep.” Ex: I miss being in college. Now life is just metro-boulot-dodo.

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4.  Bon marché refers to a good deal, or inexpensive buy. Ex: What a bon marché! This leather jacket is 50% off! (Treat the ch as an English sh.)

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5. De bon ton translates to “in good form,” referring to proper or polite taste. Ex: Bringing a gift to the party host or hostess is de bon ton. 

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6. De mauvais goût describes poor taste, making it the opposite of no. 5. Ex: As a guest, wearing white to a wedding is de mauvais goût. (Do not pronounce the s or the t.)

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7. Raffiné is an adjective meaning “sophisticated.” Ex: Gwendolyn, your bouffant looks very raffiné! (Remember to pronounce the i as an ee sound.

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8. Using à l’ombre sounds much more chic than its English translation, “in the shade.” Ex: Beatrice and I lunched on the terrace à l’ombre.