French Expressions in English: Part 1

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  1. à la carte
    As well as a lunchtime offer, the restaurant offered an à la carte menu.

    The phrase à la carte translates to ‘on the card’. If you order à la carte it means you order individual dishes as separate items from the menu rather than choosing a set meal that has a fixed price.
  2. apropos
    ‘You tell it better,’ he told her apropos of the story about their adventure in Venice.

    From the French à propos de, this word means ‘regarding’ or ‘concerning.’
  3. au contraire
    ‘Au contraire,’ he replied when she asked him if he was bored.

    Au contraire translates to ‘on the contrary’.
  4. au naturel
    She decided to go au naturel and didn’t wear any make up.

    Translating to ‘in the natural state’, this phrase is usually used to describe something that hasn’t been elaborately prepared or treated (often food), or someone who is naked.
  5. bon voyage
    They bought her a handbag as a bon voyage gift.

    Bon voyage!’ is a way of saying ‘good bye’ and ‘have a good journey’.
  6. c'est la vie
    ‘C’est la vie,’ he thought as he looked at his rain-soaked laundry on the washing line.

    This phrase is used to express resignation when faced with an unpleasant (and usually inevitable) situation. It translates to ‘that’s life’ or ‘such is life’.
  7. crème de la crème
    ‘Make sure you prepare for the audition,’ the teacher told the class. ‘The play will showcase the crème de la crème of young actors.’

    Used to describe the best people or tools within a field or profession, this phrase means ‘cream of the cream’.
  8. cul-de-sac
    He didn’t worry about the children playing outside as they lived on a cul-de-sac and traffic was minimal.

    While cul-de-sac literally translates to ‘bottom of the sack’, the phrase actually refers to a street that’s closed off at one end (i.e. a dead end).
  9. déjà vu
    As he walked down the street, a cat jumped off a wall in front of him and he was overcome with the strangest sense of déjà vu.

    The phrase déjà vu describes the strange sensation of feeling like you have already experienced something before. The words translate to ‘already seen’.
  10. du jour
    Even though it was the fashion du jour, she was sure she would never be able to wear socks and sliders without feeling silly.

    Du jour means ‘of the day’. The expression is used to describe something that is experiencing (probably short-lived) popularity or an item that is the day’s choice on a menu (e.g. ‘soup du jour’ means ‘soup of the day’).

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14 Sep 2018
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