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10 English Words with Unexpected Meanings in French

10 English Words with Unexpected Meanings in French

Same same but different, the French language might have some funny words for English speakers with other meanings. If you know some, let me know about it! From my knowledge, only one comes to mind with the French brand Daddy selling sugar in the French supermarkets. For this less serious blog post, I found ten English words that will make the French people smile or giggle. Your point of view about those words might change after reading this blog post. 

1 – Mac vs Mac

French translation = Pimp 

With “Mac” we have the brand Apple with their MacBook. There is also another American company, McDonald’s. Actually, the French are so used to hearing those two brands, that they do not even give attention anymore and do not make the connection with the French word that means a “Pimp”. 

2 – Nike vs Niquer

French translation = To fuck

Everybody knows the American sportswear brand Nike. Guess what? There is the French verb “Niquer” that stands for “To fuck” in English. There are some small jokes about it but here again, the French do not give attention anymore to this joke since Nike became such an important brand. 

3 – Bite vs Bite

French translation = Dick

The real translation in French would be the verb “Mordre”. Bite is something that will definitely make many French people giggle abroad. I remember seeing it being written on a box in McDonald’s (again them). 

4 – PD (Police Departement) vs PD 

French translation = Faggot

There is the famous NYPD and many French love to take selfies in New York in front of those iconic police cars but also for the beneath joke of “PD”. The French insult is the short version of Pédale. It can be written like “PD” or “Pédé”, it is a pretty offensive French insult. 

5 – Coke vs Coca-Cola

French translation = Cocaine

Again an American brand that Americans would say when ordering in fast food “Coke”. It is funny because it is impossible to order a Coca-Cola in the USA by saying “I would like a Coca-Cola”. It is pretty weird for the French to order Coca-Cola since Coke means Cocaine in French. 

6 – Peter vs Péter

French translation = To fart 

Peter is a male first name coming from Grec, Petros. It is a popular name in the USA and also in central Europe. Sorry for all the Peter but there is a French verb “Péter” that means “To fart” in English. Some French might do some childish jokes about your name or not.

7 – Queue vs Queue

French translation = Waiting line / Tail / Dick

In the two languages, this word means waiting line but in French, it can also mean the “tail” of an animal. Another meaning, in the French slang this word has some funny signification, it can mean “dick”. 

8 – Con vs Con

French translation = Dumb

In the English language, there are the “pros and cons”. In French  “un con” can be a con in English. The French word translates into English as “dumb” for men. I invite you to read my article about French insults, I mentioned this French swear word: French Swear Words: Learn to Curse Like a Local!

9 – Gross vs Grosse 

French translation = Fat / Big  (feminine)

You will use the English word when talking about salary or turn over whereas in French it will be used to describe the size of an object, or a person. In the case of the use for a person, it will be considered as a strong insult. 

10 – Pain vs Pain 

French translation = Bread 

There are many jokes on social media where we can see a street graffiti “life is pain” and someone else writes to the side “au Chocolat” to make a reference to the French pastry pain au chocolat. 

(Bonus) – Preservative vs Préservatif

French translation = Condom 

In English, this word means something that preserves. It is for example most of the time a chemical substance used to preserve foods or other organic materials from decomposition. In French there is a word that has almost the same pronunciation and same writing, it is “Préservatif”. It is also about protecting something but in that case, it means “condom” in English. 

I hope you won’t make the mistake now when traveling to France. Using some of those words might lead you to a quiproquo. Do you know other English words that are funny in the French language? Let me know in the comment section!