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10 French Words We Should All Be Using

France Languages
by Morgane Croissant Jun 24, 2015

1. Tartiner

To spread jam, butter, honey, etc. on a piece of bread (une tartine).

This verb can also be used in a figurative way to convey the meaning that someone is putting a lot of something on top of something else.


No need to tartiner your face with make-up. Nothing can cover that massive pimple!

2. Sortable

Worth being taken out in public.


He isn’t sortable! Every time we eat at the restaurant, he picks his teeth with the tip of his knife in the middle of supper.

3. Incontournable

Something that you should not miss or ignore.


Many people believe that Eat, Pray, Love is incontournable for travelers. I say you should stay 10 feet away from that damn book. At least.

4. Trouvaille

A good find/idea.


I got a Le Creuset pot for $4 at the Sally Ann. Now, that’s a trouvaille! Your $60 Birkenstocks aren’t.

5. Retrouvailles

The awesome feeling you get from getting together with someone you have not seen in a very long time.


Their retrouvailles was the highlight of her year, although, after 10 minutes spent with her brother, she remembered why she stayed away from him for so long.

6. Être à l’ouest

To be in your own, strange bubble.


Although Stephen lived on the Eastern seaboard, his weekly bathing in donkey milk makes him very much à l’ouest.

7. Flâner

Walking aimlessly enjoying the simple pleasures of life.


Flâner is much better than going to the gym. You sweat a lot less that way.

8. Dépaysement

The feeling one gets when they are away from home and all things familiar.


If you want a good dépaysement, go to Japan. There’s nothing like walking the streets of Tokyo to make you feel like you are on a different planet, where you definitely don’t belong.

9. Cartonner

Literally: to cover with cardboard. Figuratively: to be successful.


Jeff cartonne at covering the floor with cardboard. He’ll go far.

10. Empêchement

A last minute change that prevents you from doing something you had planned.


I won’t be able to go to work today, I have an empêchement in Bali. On the beach. I can’t miss it.

11. Yaourter

Literally: To yogurt. Figuratively: to make up words or sounds when you sing a song but don’t know the lyrics.


Listening to Anne singing in English is like being on a high-calcium diet. All she does is yaourte.

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