10 French Words that are English Words with a French Accent

“Ma mère cuisine mon dîner pendant que je…um…. eaté devant la télévision.

Every French language learner knows that moment: you don’t know a word in French, so you say the English word with a French accent, often by adding an é / –er sound to the end of a word. Usually, the invented Franglish word is wrong. (In the example sentence above, eaté should actually be mangeais.)

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Occasionally, the é / –er sound is right because that English word originates from a French word. For example, when a struggling student wants to say, “The pirate wants to abandon ship” and says, “Le pirate veut um… abandon-er le bateau” that student isn’t wrong, because “to abandon” is abandonner in French. So adding the é / -er sound works!

The rarest and most satisfying cases of correct Franglish happen when the é / -er sound works because the French word originates from an English word. (Hey, the US is a country of immigrants that took its language, food, and culture from other cultures, so it’s pretty satisfying to be the origin of something.) Check out these 10 French words that are just English words with a French accent.

1. Low-cost – adj. cheap, low-cost (pronounced like low-cost, with the emphasis on the “os” of cost and not the “t”)

In the US: “I found some low-cost tickets to Toronto for $400.”

In France: “I found some low-cost tickets to Copenhagen for $90.”

2. Bruncher – v. to have brunch, do brunch, get brunch (pronounced like brunch-aye)

In the US: “Wanna get brunch with Marcela and I? There’s a place in the East Village with bottomless mimosas for $10.”

In France: “Wanna get food with Céline and I? There’s a café in Oberkampf that has real American brunch.”

3. Faire un meeting – v. to have a meeting (pronounced like fair uhn ME-ting)

In the US: “The board members have a meeting today to decide if employees should get 5 days of paid vacation instead of 0.”

In France: “The board members font un meeting today. They’re deciding if employees should get 5 weeks of paid vacation instead of 30 days.”

4. Chiller – v. to chill, hang out (pronounced like cheel-aye)

In the US: “We’re going to hang out in the park on Saturday, probably throw a Frisbee around.”

In France: “We’re going to chiller in the park on Saturday. We’re not doing anything except smoking.”

5. Happy hour – n. happy hour (pronounced like appy-our)

In the US: “Laura and I are going to happy hour at Butterfield 8’s. If it’s too busy, we’ll just go somewhere else.”

In France: “Laurine and I are going to happy hour at Non-Chantier. If it’s too busy, we’ll buy cheap wine and drink in the street because that’s legal here.”

6. Clicker – v. to click on something (pronounced like klee-kay)

In the US: “Wait, scroll back up. There’s a link to a website that says it has a bunch of Obama-Biden memes on it. Dude, click on that link now.”

In France: “Open my email, click on the link, and it’ll take you to a page of memes about France.”

7. Un brainstorming – n. a brainstorming session (pronounced like brain stor-ming)

In the US: “Simon, I know you’re afraid of heights, but it’s your fault we’re locked out of the apartment. We brainstormed for 20 minutes and boosting you up to climb through the second story window is the only thing we could think of. Ready?”

In France: “Simone, I know you like working alone, but les brainstormings are more productive. We think of smart and well thought-out solutions. Frankly, it’s nearly impossible to have a bad idea during un brainstorming.

8. Top model – n. a supermodel, top model (pronounced like tup mo-del)

In the US: “Gisele Bündchen is America’s top model. Yes, she’s from Brazil, but she’s married to Tom Brady so we basically adopted her.”

In France: “Cindy Bruna is quite popular now, she’s a top model!”

9. Le chewing gum – n. gum (pronounced chewing gum, but “gum” is said delicately at the front of the mouth)

In the US: “Matt, I see you have gum… can I have 10 pieces? If I chew all 10 pieces really well I can blow a huge bubble.”

In France: “Matthieu, I see the chewing gum in your pocket. Can I have a piece?”

10. Un selfie – n. a selfie (pronounced selfie, but say it without opening your mouth wide, so that the “el” sound is softer)

In the US: “Wait, ohmygod, guys let’s take a selfie! Kat, stop being too cool for this and get over here!”

In France: *wait to make sure no one is looking around…takes un selfie…probably deletes the selfie*