Wednesday, July 05, 2006

French phrasebook

Confused by snobs who like to drop French words into their conversations? Tremble no more! Here is your handy guide to keeping up with the Jeanses:

  • à la carte = my way [ah lah cart]
  • à la mode = with ice cream [ah lah mode]
  • apéritif = booze [ah pair a teef (all I want for Christmas is...)]
  • au gratin = cheesy [oh grah tan (don't say "og rotten")]
  • au jus = juicy [oh zhu]
  • au naturel = naked [oh natch er el]
  • au pair = live-in maid (jailbait and/or mistress) [oh pair]
  • avant-garde = crazy [ah vahn gard]
  • bête noire = stumbling block [bet nwah]
  • billet-doux = love letter [bee lay do]
  • bon appétit = eat! [bone ap eh tee (don't pronounce the final "t")]
  • bon mot = just the right word [bone moe (sorry, Larry and Curly)]
  • bon vivant = party animal [bone vee vahn]
  • bon voyage = go away [bone voy ahzh]
  • carte blanche = blank check [cart blonsh]
  • c'est la vie = that's life [say lah vee]
  • chaise longue = long chair [shayz long (don't say "chase lounge")]
  • chef = chief cook [shef (no word on "bottle washer")]
  • chic = stylish [sheek]
  • critique = review [crih teek]
  • cuisine = food [kwih zeen]
  • debutante = jail bait [deh byoo tahnt]
  • décolletage = cleavage [deh ko leh tahzh]
  • demimonde = freaks [deh mee mond (as opposed to "Demi Moore"; on second thought...)]
  • demitasse = not enough coffee [deh mee tass]
  • de rigueur = obligatory [deh ree guhr]
  • dernier cri = trendy [dare nee ay kree]
  • double entendre = pun [doob lahn tahn (don't say "double intender")]
  • eau de toilette = perfume [oh deh twah let (for God's sake, don't say "oh deh toilet")]
  • encore = do it again [on cor]
  • enfant terrible = brat [on fon tare ee bleh]
  • en garde = watch out [on gard]
  • en masse = mob [on mass]
  • en route = on the way [on root]
  • esprit de corps = team spirit [ess pree day core]
  • fait accompli = too late, it's done [feht ah com plee]
  • faux = fake [foe]
  • faux pas = embarrassing mistake [foe pah]
  • femme fatale = bitch [fahm fah tal]
  • film noir = black and white crime movie [film nwah]
  • finale = end [fih nahl ee]
  • flambée = burn [flahm bay]
  • fondue = melt [fon doo]
  • force majeure = kick-ass-ness [force mah zhoor]
  • gauche = uncool [goesh]
  • genre = type [zhahn ra]
  • haute couture = pricy clothes [hote coo toor]
  • haute cuisine = pricy food [hote kwih zeen]
  • hors d'oeuvres = snacks [or derv]
  • je ne sais quoi = whatsit [zheh neh say kwah]
  • joie de vivre = enjoying life [zhwah deh veev]
  • laissez-faire = apathy [lay zay fare]
  • maître d' = male restaurant greeter [may ter dee]
  • mal de mer = seasickness [mal deh mare]
  • matinée = early show [ma tih nay]
  • nom de plume = alias [nom deh ploom]
  • née = formerly [nay]
  • nouveau riche = lucky bastards [noo voe reesh]
  • papier mâché = paper mashay, strips of newspaper plus glue [pap ee yay ma shay]
  • pas de deux = two step [pah deh duh]
  • petite = little [peh teet]
  • pièce de résistance = big thing [pee yes deh ray zeece tahnce]
  • pied-à-terre = flophouse [pee yay dah tare]
  • pirouette = turn around [pir oo eht]
  • protégé = flunkie, lover [pro teh zhay]
  • purée = crush [pyoo ray]
  • raison d'être = why you exist [ray zahn deh truh]
  • rendez-vous = meeting [rahn day voo]
  • repartee = wit [reh par tay (as opposed to "par-TAY!")]
  • risqué = sexy [riss kay]
  • rouge = blush [roozh]
  • RSVP = answer me, goddammit! (stands for "respondez, sil vous plait", or "respond, if you please")
  • sang-froid = steeliness [sang frwahd]
  • sans = minus [sahnz]
  • sauté = fry really hot [so tay]
  • savoir-faire = grace [sa vwah fare]
  • séance = sitting [say ahnce]
  • soi-disant = so-called [swah dee zahn]
  • soirée = party in the dark [swah ray]
  • soupçon = tad [soup's on]
  • sous-chef = gofer [soo shef]
  • souvenir = clutter [soo veh neer]
  • tête-à-tête = head to head [tet ah tet]
  • touché = Dude! Burn! [too shay]
  • tour de force = cool thing someone did [toor deh force]
  • trompe l'oeil = painting that fakes you out [tromp loy]
  • vis-à-vis = with respect to [veez ah vee]
  • vol-au-vent = meat/fish + pastry [vol oh vahn]

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