7 French Words the English Language Lacks

Bonjour !

Some words are missing in English. For instance, the Inuit word “Iktsuarpok” means “to keep looking outside with anticipation for a guest that hasn’t arrived yet.”

And it’s a shame it doesn’t have a neat translation!

But what French words are missing in the English language?

Chanter en yaourt, avec PV Nova

Et toi ?

Did you know any of these words before?

Which words in your own language don’t have neat translations into English or French?

Which words should your own language adopt?

Bonne journée,


Join the conversation!

  • another word that doesn’t exist in English is Tutoyer….and try to explain it to a non French speaker!

  • Frimeur is a word I once heard in France to describe a guy who struts about
    as if he’s important … a sort of show-off perhaps ~ ?
    And I came across des tartines belge in France which were a nice accompaniment
    to a drink. Bread with cheese and radishes possibly, or maybe it was onions ~ ?
    Bon appétit, et merci Géraldine.

  • I lived in France for some years and all my friends are French but some spoke very good English. One day I said to a friend in English if she was getting excited about an event she was planning. She said “The French never get excited”. Is this true? And in French would I just say “looking forward to”.

    • Bonjour Gillian.

      Yes, it’s true “être excité” is for children or in a sexual meaning. OR for adult if it’s clear that it’s not sexual. So we don’t use it, most of the time. 🙂

  • Hello, Géraldine,
    Sorry for I can’t quite understand what you explain about the word of ( retrouvaillles ) is it a noun and it means some old friends have met happily together for not having any news since then, right? ex : Oh! les retrouvailles, enfin,ils se sont retrouvés, il y a plusieurs années. is it right of what I write in French? thanks in advance.

    • Bonjour Fen,

      I’d say “Ils ont fêté leurs retrouvailles.” or “Buvons à nos retrouvailles.”
      Se retrouver = you were lost and you’re meeting again.
      Les retrouvailles is just more the fact (only) that you’re meeting again after a long time. You don’t have such an emphasis on “you were lost”

  • Sorry Géraldine but this is not a comment on your excellent video, but on your new website. As I do not always understand the comments written in french, I need to have them translated. On your old website I was able to right click and select Translate to English and all the comments were translated. With your new website only the site headings are translated and the comments are still in French. Hopefully this is something your team can correct. Or perhaps there is something else I can do to get the translations.

    Thank you all for all your hard work in producing these videos.

  • Un autre mot français, très utile, qui n’existe pas en anglais est le verbe “flâner” et ses noms “flâneur / flâneuse.”

  • J’adore en français les mots “motivé” et “profiter”. On n’a pas de mot qui exprime ça tellement bien en grec.

      • Je vais réflechir et vous en dire plus. Pour le moment, ce qui me vient automatiquement à l’esprit c’est le mot “filotimo” (φιλότιμο). C’est, je pense, intraduisible dans toutes les langues que je parle: anglais, français, italien, espagnol.
        C’est donc très difficile à expliquer. D’adord, il faut préciser que avoir du filotimo est une bonne chose, c’est une qualité du caractère qu’on considère un peu comme innée à tous, mais finalement on découvre que certains n’ont pas de filotimo et ça c’est terrible! Mais alors, qu’est-ce que c’est? Je dirais que c’est un sentiment de devoir (de se comporter bien, d’aider les autres, de faire ce qu’il faut faire…) et ce sentiment de devoir est un peu lié avec la dignité et la honte. C’est à dire qu’une personne qui ne fait pas ce qu’elle devrait faire, elle devrait en avoir honte, si elle dispose d’un peu de filotimo. Normalement, on se sent très mal, si quelqu’un vous dit que vous n’avez pas de filotimo.
        Je ne sais pas si j’arrive à faire passer l’idée, c’est très difficile. J’aimerais savoir si vous avez compris et si vous avez des mots équivalents à proposer.

        • Très très intéressant Maria ~ merci.
          A quick story for you in English .. I used to drive one of
          those black cabs around London ~ I’ve retired from it now.
          One day a woman in the back of my cab was having a
          conversation on her mobile phone in a language which I
          didn’t recognise, but the language was beautiful to listen
          to. When she’d stopped I told her this and asked her what
          language she’d been speaking. The answer was Greek.

          Again ~ merci.

        • Bonjour Maria,

          Très intéressant ! Je pense qu’on pourrait parler un peu du “Sens du devoir” mais c’est bien évidemment très loin du sens profond de Filotimo.

          Pour ceux qui veulent aller plus loin : https://en.wikipedia.org/wi

  • “Les retrouvailles” does have a translation. They are called reunions. Like a family reunion or a high school reunion or a reunion after a long time abroad or something of that nature

  • Ral bol = had enough /fed up.
    Ral bol casquette = had it up to here.
    Râler = moan,
    Ralerur = à moaner
    (Stronger = rant, a right ranter)
    Tatiner = to spread, not just for confiture, French chefs use it like the English word when describing the action of spreading any substance (evenly) over something else, salé et sucré.
    Pls excuse spelling, on mobile, accents etc difficult
    Retrouvailles = reunion ie a family reunion, implies long time since last together, not found again, but still the same.
    Interestingly it exists in Danish, but again using different stems, and it is also extended to a prefix in farewell formulas
    . Jeg har “Genset” (again see) = j’ai retrouvé x/ l found x again. “Et gensyn” & “på gensyn” = a “Retrouvaille” & hope to/we will “meet again”.

  • Chanter en yaourt est très enfantin, rigolo , merveilleux, et très français. J´adore.
    I think mondegreen is something different. It is more like misheard lyrics, and if you want a good laugh, there are some very funny ones here http://www.kissthisguy.com/

  • Merci pour la video – excellent comme toujours! Pour la dernière phrase “Chanter en yaourt, nous avons un mot anglais – “mondegreen”, qui, je pense, signifie la même chose. Une Américaine, Sylvia Wright a inventé le mot quand elle a entendu ces mots dans une chanson: “and laid him on the green” qu’elle a mal entendu comme “mondegreen”. Jo

  • Moi qui parle français courrament, j’ai bien appris des choses! Vidéo excellente. Mais chanter en yaourt m’a complètement échappée!

  • Hello Géraldine. I think râler perhaps does exist in English as ‘to rail’ (against) something, as in ‘she railed against the price increase’.
    I often find myself searching for a direct equivalent in French of ‘I am looking forward to…’, for instance, ‘I am looking forward to going to the theatre tonight’. ‘J’ai hâte de….’ never seems strong enough!

    Thanks for another excellent video.

    • I have often looked for that expression as well… “J’attends avec impatience” is close but seems like awkward phrasing to us English-speakers, doesn’t it?

    • Bonjour,

      To show impatience (in a good sense), “J’ai hâte de ” is really good. Then you can add a little extra excitement with “J’ai vraiment hâte..” or J’ai vraiment très hâte de…”.
      And you can even say “J’en peux plus d’attendre !” as “I can’t stand the wait”: can be used in positive and negative situations.

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