French

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See also: french

English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English Frenche, Frensch, Frensc, Frenshe, Frenkisch, Franche, from Old English Frenċisċ (Frankish), from Franca (Frank) + -isċ (-ish), equivalent to Frank +‎ -ish. Cognate with Danish fransk (French), Swedish fransk, fransysk (French), Icelandic franska (French). Compare Frankish.

In reference to vulgar language, from expressions such as pardon my French in the early 19th century, originally in reference to actual (but often mildly impolite) French expressions by the upper class, subsequently adopted ironically by the lower class for English cursewords under the charitable conceit that the listener would not be familiar with them.

In reference to vermouth, a shortened form of French vermouth, distinguished as usually being drier than Italian vermouth.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK, US) enPR: frĕnch, IPA(key): /fɹɛnt͡ʃ/, /fɹɛnʃ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛntʃ

Noun[edit]

French (countable and uncountable, plural French or Frenches)

  1. (chiefly collective and plural) The people of France; groups of French people.
    The Hundred Years' War was fought between the English and the French.
    Under the Fourth Republic, more and more French unionized.
    • 1579, Geoffrey Fenton, translating Francesco Guicciardini as The Historie of Guicciardin, p. 378:
      ...to breake the necke of the wicked purposes & plots of the French...
    • 1653, Thomas Urquhart, translating François Rabelais as Works of Mr. Francis Rabelais, Vol. I, p. 214:
      Such is the nature and complexion of the frenches, that they are worth nothing, but at the first push.
    • 2002, Jeremy Thornton, The French and Indian War, page 14:
      On the way, scouts reported that some French were heading toward them across the ice.
  2. (chiefly uncountable) The language of France, shared by the neighboring countries Belgium, Monaco, and Switzerland and by former French colonies around the world.
    She speaks French.
    • c. 1390, Robert Grosseteste, translating Chateau d'Amour as The Castle of Love, ll. 25 ff.:
      Ne mowe we alle Latin wite...
      Ne French...
    • 1533, Thomas More, The Debellacyon of Salem & Bizance, fol. 96:
      I... wolde also be bolde in such french as is peculiare to the lawys of this realme, to leue it wyth them in wrytynge to.
    • 1720, Daniel Defoe, Memoirs of a Cavalier, p. 13:
      I could speak but little French.
    • 1991, Michael Clyne, Pluricentric Languages: Differing Norms in Different Nations, Walter de Gruyter (→ISBN), page 169:
      Thus, complementary to the French of France, the Quebecois (and in a lesser degree the Frenches of Africa, Swiss French, etc.) would constitute languages in their own right.
    • 1997, Albert Valdman, French and Creole in Louisiana, page 29:
      Almost three quarters of the population 65 and older reported speaking French.
    • 2004, Jack Flam, Matisse and Picasso: The Story of Their Rivalry and Friendship, page 18:
      Although he would spend the rest of his life in France, Picasso never mastered the language, and during those early years he was especially self-conscious about how bad his French was.
    • 2013, Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Language and Culture in Medieval Britain: The French of England, C.1100-c.1500, Boydell & Brewer Ltd (→ISBN), page 361:
      The Frenches of England remain as working languages in the different registers of various occupational communities and for particular social rituals. Beyond the fifteenth century, French is a much less substantial presence in England, though []
  3. (uncountable) The ability of a person to communicate in French.
    My French is a little rusty.
    • 1742 April 4, R. West, letter to Thomas Gray:
      [Racine's] language is the language of the times, and that of the purest sort; so that his French is reckoned a standard.
  4. (uncountable) French language and literature as an object of study.
    I'm taking French next semester.
  5. (uncountable, euphemistic, now often ironic) Vulgar language.
    Pardon my French.
    • 1845, Edward Jerningham Wakefield, Adventure in New Zealand, Vol. I, p. 327:
      The enraged headsman spares no ‘bad French’ in explaining his motives.
    • 1986, John Hughes, Ferris Bueller's Day Off:
      Cameron: Pardon my French, but you're an asshole!
    • 2005 May 29, New York Times Book Review, p. 12:
      The book... is a welcome change from theory-infected academic discourse, pardon my French.
  6. (uncountable, dated slang) Synonym of oral sex, especially fellatio.
    • 1916, Henry Nathaniel Cary, The Slang of Venery and Its Analogues, Vol. I, p. 94:
      French--to do the French--Cocksucking; and, inversely, to tongue a woman.
    • 1968, Bill Turner, Sex Trap, p. 64:
      You can be whipped or caned... or you can have French for another pound.
    • 1986 May 6, Semper Floreat, p. 34:
      Always use condoms with Greek (anal intercourse), straight sex (vaginal intercourse, fucking), French (oral sex).
    • 1996 October 13, Observer, p. 25:
      French’—still used by prostitutes as a term for oral sex.
  7. (chiefly uncountable, dated slang) Synonym of dry vermouth.
    • 1930, Ethel Mannin, Confessions & Impressions, p. 177:
      Tearle replied that gin-and-French and virginian cigarettes would do for him.
    • 1967, Michael Francis Gilbert, The Dust & the Heat, p. 14:
      He was drinking double gins with single Frenches in them.

Usage notes[edit]

The use of the plural form Frenches occurred in early modern English but is only seldomly and exceptionally encountered in contemporary English. As with other collective demonyms, French is preceded by the definite article or some other determiner when referring to the people of France collectively.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See also[edit]

Proper noun[edit]

French

  1. A surname​.

Derived terms[edit]

Adjective[edit]

French (comparative more French, superlative most French)

  1. Of or relating to France.
    the French border with Italy
    • 2015 May 3, John Oliver, “Standardized Testing”, in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, season 2, episode 12, HBO:
      That must have hurt, especially because you knew the French children weren’t even trying. “Uh, go on, play weez your seellee nambeurs. Zey tell you nosseeng of ze true naytcheur of ze soula. I’ll weepa for you.”
  2. Of or relating to the people or culture of France.
    French customs
  3. Of or relating to the French language.
    French verbs
  4. (slang, sexuality) Of or related to oral sex, especially fellatio.
    French activeperson who is fellated
    French girla prostitute who offers fellatio
  5. (informal, often euphemistic) Used to form names or references to venereal diseases.
    French diseasea venereal disease
    French crownhair loss from venereal disease
    French poxsyphillis

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Verb[edit]

French (third-person singular simple present Frenches, present participle Frenching, simple past and past participle Frenched)

  1. Alternative letter-case form of french
    • 1995, Jack Womack, Random Acts of Senseless Violence, page 87:
      Even before I thought about what I was doing we Frenched and kissed with tongues.

Alternative forms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]