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20 reinvented French words

to mark World Dictionary Day


Published: 16 Oct 2015   

Ménage a moi
When you end up going home alone in a taxi (or Uber more likely) after spending an unsuccessful night out in Paris trying to pick up locals.
"Did you meet anyone last night? Yeah beaucoup, but no luck. Another 'ménage a moi' for me."
Déja who
The sensation of meeting a French person at a soirée who you definitely remember meeting at a previous soirée or perhaps even twice, but whose name you've totally forgotten, again.

(Don't be left feeling déja who, like the man above in Paris. Photo: AFP)
When you go out for an early evening drink at the house of your French friends that descends into torture.
Normally it's because they don't have enough alcohol for you, no one talks to you, you don't speak good enough French, can't follow the conversations, don't dare to speak, and wish you could be elsewhere. 
The laid back approach Parisian men have towards their hairstyles. Forget hair product, embrace the disheveled and messy laissez-hair look .

(French actor and YouTube sensation Norman Thavaud goes laissez-hair. Photo: AFP)

After spending Christmas in France eating copious amounts of foie gras and chocolate log (separately, normally) you’ll probably be feeling very guilty and take a vow to do some rigorous exercise to shed those extra pounds. 

“Oh I feel terrible, I'm gonna have to spend the whole of January at the flabattoir.”

A la toad
Those expats who come to Paris and try to dress as fashionably as the French, but just don't pull it off and basically look ridiculous.
The French intellectual, or "intello" as they are called here, that you meet in a café on the Left Bank who turns out to be more mad than clever and you have to make a run for it.
Gone appétit
The exclamation for when a meal looks so unappetizing that when it's plonked down in front of you, you're suddenly no longer hungry. Think tête de veau (calf's brains), longue de boeuf (cow's tongue) and andouillettes (pig's intestines). 
"Oh dear I really shouldn't have chosen the tripe. Gone appetite, everyone."
Ban au chocolat
A mindset for when you're cutting back on French pastries - "I won't be stopping at the patisserie, I'm on month long "ban au chocolat".

(A pain au chocolat. Photo:  Luc Viatour/WikiCommons)
C'est la vegan!
The begrudging exclamation to be used when learning there are no vegetarian or vegan options at a restaurant in France.
An exclamation to be used when finding an empty Vélib bicycle rack, or indeed when realizing too late that your bike is faulty. 
"Oh this is bloody unVelibable," said one irate expat last week after getting a flat tyre.

(Photo: AFP)
La hell vie
The reality of life for some expats whose dream of finding La Belle Vie in France has been scuppered by endless and confusing taxes, red tape, loneliness and a lack of Yorkshire Tea. 
Blow pas 
The term to describe when someone doesn't quite get the rules of the French bed culture and commits a social error during oral sex.
Suit Alors!
The exclamation you'll likely use if you ever have your suit ripped off by French union members, or indeed by anyone.
Someone who wishes they were a takeaway-coffee drinking, beard-wearing hipster (known as a bobo in France), but who doesn't actually pull it off.
A posh Parisian, most often found in the west of the city in an apartment with an Eiffel Tower view. 
(The posh 16th arrondissement in Paris. Photo: AFP)


When picky Parisians demand that they have to be seated in a certain spot on a cafe terrace or eat dinner at a certain time, when all you want is to introduce a little flexibility in their lives. 


While Parisians are quite happy to use the word périphérique for the city’s crazy ring road where vehicles drive bumper to bumper, expats are more likely to refer to the noose around Paris as the Periphereeeeeeek! given how frightening it is to navigate. 


(How most Parisians imagine the banlieue to look like. Photo: AFP)

Parisians who are forced to cross the periphereeeeeeek ring road to go the suburbs (banlieue) are often left looking a little pale and feeling weak at the knees. That’s because they are suffering from a bad case of “banlieurgy”.

It's easily cured, just by taking them home.

Often to get to the banlieue Parisians have to take the rundown, under invested, always packed, occasionally smelly and sometimes dangerous commuter train system the RER, but known to everyone who has ever been on it as the R E RGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

And lastly, we all lapse into franglaziness every now and again, when we can't be bothered to to think of the French word and just start speaking "franglais" in the hope to be understood. So stop being franglazy and learn the language.