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  • French Phrases Hidden in English Words

  • A lot of English words come from French words that we borrowed, but some English words contain whole French phrases within them.

  • Let's take a 'petite' tour!

  • What is vinegar but sour wine?

  • And that's exactly where the word comes from, too. Vinegar is 'vin aigre', or sour wine.

  • "Curfew" goes back to the medieval regulation, where the village bell would ring in the evening as a signal for everyone to put out their fires.

  • Hence curfew, 'couvre feu' or cover fire.

  • A dandelion has notched, pointed petals that look a bit... like lion's teeth?

  • In any case, that's where we get the word dandelion from, French 'dent de lion', or lion's tooth.

  • We also get our name for the spikiest animal we know from a French phrase.

  • A porcupine is a 'porc épine' or spiky pig.

  • Denim, that coolest of cool American looks, got its start as a twill fabric frommes, a southern French city known for textile manufacturing.

  • Denim is frommes, 'demes'.

  • Ok, it's pretty obvious that debonair is a French word, but have you ever broken it down?

  • 'De bon air', of good air. A debonair person has a good disposition, a nice air about them.

  • A mortgage is a type of pledge.

  • If the loan can't be paid, the lender gets the property. If the loan is paid off, the property is the borrower's.

  • When either one of those things happens, the pledge dies; the mortgage is a death pledge, 'mort gage'.

  • "Mayday!" is a distress signal for when you really need help.

  • It comes from 'venez m'aider!' or "Come help me!"

  • And this little tour of French phrases should help you get to know these English words a little bit better.

French Phrases Hidden in English Words

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