French Glossary

FRENCH

Loose Translation – English Version

Au Revoir!

Good-Bye!

á La Carte

A Menu of Choices

A La Mode

With Ice Cream

Apéritif

A Cocktail

Art Déco

Popular art design from 1925-40 used in architecture,
interior design, fashion and visual arts

Art Nouveau

Design using flowers, leaves and flowing lines

Au Contraire!

On the contrary – totally different, the opposite

Au Gratin

Anything that is grated on top of a dish – usually with cheese or bread crumbs

Au Jus

With meat juices

Au Natural

Unseasoned (in cooking), untouched, real

Au Pair

Person who works in exchange for room & board

Avant-garde

Innovative

Billet-Doux

Love Letter or Sweet Note

Bon Appétit

Enjoy! (have a good appetite)

Bon Bon

A small treat or chocolate

Bonjour!

Hello or Hi (good day)

Bon Vivant

Some one who lives well & enjoys life

Bon Voyage

Elegant way to say have a good trip

Café Au Lait

Coffee With Milk – or a Flavor of Coffee with Milk

Carte Blanche

Do whatever is needed to get it done

C’est La Vie

That’s life!

C’est Magnifique!

It’s the best

Chaise lounge

A Chair which extends for the legs

Chateau

Home

Chauffeur

Driver

Chef

Cook

Chic

Stylish (sheek)

Coup de Grâce

The final blow, the best, the top.

Crème Brulee

Baked Custard with Carmelized crust

Crème Caramel

Baked Custard lined with caramel

Crème de Cocao

Chocolate flavored, unusually liquor

Crème de la Crème

The best of the best

Crepe

A thin pancake with filling, folded in half

Croissant

A light flaky, buttery, pastry in a crescent shape

Crouton

A small piece of crust

Cuisine

A type of cooking, French cooking

Debutante

A Young girl making a formal debut

Déja Vu

Feeling you have seed something or done something or been somewhere before – when you haven’t

Demitasse

Half a cup

De Rigueur

Socially obligatory, it must be done that way

Divinity

A small, light weight piece of sweet made from mostly egg white

Du Jour

Of the Day

Eau de Cologne Or
Eau de Toilette

A Light form of perfume

Éclair

A small, oblong crème filled puff pastry with chocolate frosting

Encore

A request for an additional performance or another of the same thing

Enfant

Terrible Embarrassing person, spoiled, trouble maker

En Gard

Warning to be on alert, ready for attack

Faux

Fake, not the real thing

Faux Pas

A foolish mistake

Fleur-de-lis

An emblem of 3 petals or 3 feathers

Fondant

Icing or frosting for cakes or candy

Force Majeure

A great force, an overwhelming event that takes precedent

Frappé

Frozen fruit flavored dessert or cocktail on shaved ice

Gamine

A playful little girl

Gauche

tactless, without manners or social graces

Gateau

A rich cake with icing

Haute Couture

High class, expensive, fancy or designer clothes

Haute Cuisine

High Class or fancy, expensive food

Hors d’oeuvre

Appetizers before the main course

Idée Fixe

Fixation, obsession

Ingénue

A naïve, unsophisticated young girl

Je ne sais quoi

A “Certain something” about someone that you like

Joie de Vivre

Joy of living, living life to the fullest

Liaison

Meeting, working together, person relaying information or
romantic get together

Maitre d’

The chief of the servers, the man in charge

Mal de Mer

Sea sickness or flu

Matinée

In the morning or early in the day

Mousse

An light, airy pudding served chilled, also a light airy crème from an aerosol can used as a styling cream for hair

Mystique

A mystery surrounding a person or thing that increases
Interest in it

Napoleons

Puff pastries with alternating layers of crèmes and pastry

Nom de Plume

A pen name or a name other than your own

Nouveau Riche

Someone who recently came into money

Omelette

A light dish made with beaten eggs and additional
Ingredients usually served for breakfast or brunch

Par Excellence

Best of the Best, Quintessential , Pre-eminent

Parfait

A layered dessert usually whipped topping, ice cream, fruits and pastries like Lady Fingers

Pastries

A food group of sweet items made from various doughs and fillings

Pâté

Finely ground paste made of meat, game, fish or vegetables

Petite

Small or Short

Petit-Four

Small Desert, especially a cake

Pièce de Résistance

An outstanding accomplishment, the best

Prêt-á-Porter

Clothing purchased off the rack, ready to wear, not custom

Protégé

Someone who’s training is paid for by a mentor or influential person

Quiche

A pie made mostly of eggs and cream in a pastry crust, with cheese, meat or vegetables added

Raison d’être

The purpose or reason for being

Rendez-vous

A date, appointment or meeting at a specific location

Rouge

Red

RSVP Respondez, s’il vous plait -

Please answer

Soirée

An elegant, formal party

Souvenir

A memento

Talc

A soft, soapy mineral

Tête-á-tete

A private talk with one other person- meeting face to face

Tour de force

Something which takes a great deal of planning, strength or skill to accomplish

Trompe L’oeil

Tricking the eye – (trickery in general) 3-D artwork that looks real but is not – when a window looks real

Toupee

Fake hair, a partial wig, usually for men

Villain

The bad guy

Vin

Wine

Vintage

The year and place something was produced, having a certain age, older but classic

Vis-à-vis

Face to Face meeting or a comparison of two things

Voila!

There it is – or there you are!