Pull & Slip: “English” Words in French Clothing

Bonjour !

Fashion is a staple of French culture, yet many of our everyday clothes actually are actually named after English words.

I mean, they sound like English words, but we’re using these words… creatively.

Which clothes am I talking about?
What’s the difference between “un string” and “un slip” ?
What’s a “jogging” in France?

Today I’m taking you on a tour of our drawers and wardrobes, to learn more about French clothes.




Dany Boon – Le K-way

Et toi ?

Did you know these words at all already?
Which other weird Anglicisms do you know?
Do you use French words for clothing in your own country?

Bonne journée,

Géraldine

Join the conversation!

  • Les jeans sont faits d’un matériau appelé denim. Le nom “denim” vient du nom d’un tissu robuste appelé “Serge de Nîmes”, initialement fabriqué à Nîmes, en France, donc “de Nîmes” – “denim”

    • And “jeans” comes from Gênes, the city (Genova, Genoa) where they used serge de Nîmes to make trousers. First popularised by… no, not Levi Strauss but that Italian/Niceois hero Giuseppe Garibaldi. You can see a pair of his in the Museum of the Risorgimento in Rome.

  • Ici aux Etats Unis, le mot “culotte” veut dire un vêtement féminin qui ressemble à une jupe mais qui a des jambières pantalons. Comment s’appel ça en français?

  • Amusant et intéressant, comme toujours ! Je ne connaissais pas du tout l’expression “la fête du slip” ! Dans le domaine des vêtements, il y a aussi “le body”, que portent les femmes pour faire de la danse, du yoga, etc. “Leotard” en anglais, je pense, ou peut-être plutôt “body suit”? Et “une tong” (déformation bizarre et un des rares mots empruntés qui soient féminins; y a aussi “une star” et, bien sûr, “une vidéo) est “a thong” uniquement en Australie; en GB “a flipflop”!

  • The things we do with language ! In America pants means a pair of trousers, but here in England it means underwear – of course. I can only guess that, either way, the word originally comes from the French word un pantalon ? Et quelqu’un qui s’appelle Jean et ses jeans (ou son jeans ?) ~ quelle confusion, mais moi je n’étais jamais à la mode de toute façon 😀 Très intéressante Géraldine ~ merci.

  • I distinctly remembering using the word “lingerie” with a French friend once, and it’s funny now, remembering my friend saying, What is that word? It sounds like you are trying to say a French word.” In English, it means delicate/sexy underclothes for women. But our English pronunciation of lingerie must be pretty odd to Francophones…. 🙂 I looked up the French definition and it says “linen room”. I don’t even know what a linen room is! But it doesn’t sound like alluring women’s undergarments.

    • Bonjour Tom,

      Lingerie has the same meaning in French. It’s just that it has a “in” sound that sometimes surprises foreigners.
      The “lingerie” room doesn’t often exist anymore. It was a closet where you stored linen.

  • “Le costume” always surprises me, as I have several grandchildren who love to dress in costumes such as a princess, Batman, etc. Costumes are usually for fun, and I have trouble thinking of a business man in ‘un costume’ without smiling.

  • Not an English-ism, but it surprised me that a French woman doesn’t wear a “brassiere” (an English word that sounds very French) but instead wears a “soutien-gorge.” Wikipedia says that “brassiere” is actually Norman French for a child’s undershirt.

    • Bonjour Barbara,

      En effet, “brassière” c’est pour le sport ou les adolescentes. OU c’est un type de soutien-gorge semblable aux soutien-gorges pour le sport. 🙂

  • En grec, on utilise le mot français “caleçon” mais dans un sens différent: ça veut dire collant. En plus, on utilise le mot français “collant” mais ça veut dire leggings! Quel imbroglio!

    • Bonjour Maria,

      C’est marrant d’avoir aussi ces mots en grec ! Tu le prononces pareil ?
      Pour leggings, les français utilisent “leggings” mais on utilise collant ou caleçon pour les désigner, parfois. Par exemple pour les vêtements de sport et/ou les sous-vêtements chauds.
      Par exemple, pour aller au ski, on met souvent un “leggings” sous un pantalon de ski. Certains disent ‘un collant”, d’autres disent “un caleçon long”. C’est étrange.

      • Merci pour ces détails Géraldine. En grec, on prononce presque pareil, sauf qu’en grec il n’y a pas de voyelles nasales, donc on prononce les voyelles “dénasalisées” et après un n normal. Est-ce que tu pourrais faire un épisode sur des mots anglais que vous utilisez ou des marques anglaises courantes et nous dire comment vous les prononcez? Franchement, je trouve les Français imprévisibles sur ça!

  • C’est intéressant que tous les anglicismes soient masculins. Je crois que c’est la règle – comme le weekend, etc.

    • Yes, almost all are. The only exceptions I can think of are une star, une bimbo, une vidéo and une tong (see my comment above).

  • It is fun reading all these comments. I sometimes recall some French words from my classes in school long ago. I visited Canada and France some years ago and amused the locals, mostly the servers in restaurants, by trying to speak French.
    Fortunately their English was better then my French – so I got to eat fine French cuisine. Merci.

  • It is fun to read these comments. I sometimes recall a few words from my French classes in school long ago. I wonder
    if it is the same for the French who learned English in school. I once had a short visit to France and amused the folks in restaurants in trying to order food. Fortunately, their English was much better than my French. So I enjoyed great French
    cuisine in spite of my poor knowledge. Merci. And, as Julia Child used to say: Bonne appetite!!!!

  • Bonjour Geraldine un video tres interesant comme d’hab. Toutes Les semaines je regarde la publicité à apprendre bien la français. Cordialement Diane

  • One of my favorite restaurants in Midtown East used to be Les Sans Culottes (now, sadly, closed) which I thought was a bit scandalous until I looked it up . . .

  • Bonjour Géraldine
    Le mot people, prononcé en France “pipeule”, signifie des gens très connu. C´est mon anglicisme favori. 🙂

  • Une amie de ma mère lui a raconté qu’elle est allée une fois dans une boutique en France et leur a demandé une ­«camisole»…elle n’a pas compris pourquoi ils l’ont regardée bizarrement ! Une «camisole» en anglais c’est un caraco en français !

    • Ah oui, Meggie… ils ont dû être surpris ! En français, camisole c’est pour “ligoter” les gens. 🙂

  • Did you know that jeans have a very French history… Jeans are made of a material called denim. The name “denim” comes from the name of a sturdy fabric called “Serge de Nîmes”, initially made in Nîmes, France, hence “de Nîmes” – “denim”. Jeans are named after the French prononciation of the city of Genoa in Italy, a place where cotton corduroy, called either jean or jeane, was manufactured.

  • hello Geraldine
    A lady in our village offers ‘le re-looking’. But re. different words for clothing, it took me a long time to get used to Americans referring to trousers as ‘pants’ and the French calling a jacket a ‘veste’ – they’re both underwear in English English!
    thanks for yet another very interesting video
    Liz R

  • Hello Géraldine,
    In this list I know Ok, Stop, Happy hour, job, parking, marketing, dress code, swag etc …

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