19 Common French Words You Need To Stop Butchering

Sacré bleu! Say it right, or say it not - there is no try


Who doesn’t love spouting French words when they always sound so chic? But while you may have perfected “bonjour”, “d’accord” and “merci beaucoup”, but are you getting other classic words or terms right? Here are 20 common mispronunciations to avoid, starting today.

#1 Parfait

Meaning “perfect” in French, this dessert is always worth saving belly room for. Say “parr-fey”, not “par-fert”.

#2 Aioli

Usually in a lemon or garlic flavour, it’s one of the best things with crusty bread. Say “eye-oh-lee”, not “ah-yoh-lee”.

#3 Lingerie

We love this for naughty nights in. Say “lahn-zher-ray”, not “lon-zher-ray”.  

#4 Au revoir

Meaning goodbye in French, it’s probably the most romantic-sounding farewell. Say “oh-ruh-vwar”, not "ar-ruh-vwar”.

#5 Niche

Have you found yours? Say “neesh”, not “nitch”. 

#6 Foie gras

One of the most indulgent menu items ever, and usually pan-fried in lots of butter. Say “fwah-grah”, not “for-grah”. 

#7 Croissant

Best eaten with jam or chocolate, and synonymous with Parisian cafes. Say “kwah-sont”, not “crow-sont”.  

#8 Macaron

So good at tea time! Say “mah-kah-rohn”, not “mare-ker-roon”.

#9 Atelier

A chi-chi name for a workshop, usually for fashion apparel. Say “ahh-ter-lee-yay”, not “aww-tay-lear”.

#10 Voila 

A term used to celebrate the unusual, or an achievement. Say “vwah-lah”, not “wah-lah”.

#11 Baguette

We love this at breakfast! Say “bah-get”, not “ber-get”.  

#12 Bijoux

A common term for a small trinket or piece of jewellery. Say “bee-jhoo”, not “bee-joos”.  

#13 Faux pas

Usually linked to fashion, it means “social blunder”. Say “foh-par", not “for-par”.

#14 Haute couture

Means “high fashion” in French, so mispronouncing this kills your fashion cred in a hurry. Say “oot-coo-teur”, not “awt-cur-tier”. 

#15 Chantilly

This light, airy cream is best enjoyed with coffee or decadent pastries. Say “shahn-tee-yee”, not “shan-tee-lee”. 

#16 Louboutin

Such covetable heels need to be addressed the right way! Say “Loo-boo-tan”, not “Low-boo-ton”.

#17 Givenchy

Apparel, accessories, fragrances, cosmetics - this French brand does it all. Say “zhee-von-she”, not “Gee-von-chee”.

#18 Pâté

A spreadable paste of cooked meat and minced fat, usually made from chicken liver. Say “pah-tay”, not “pair-tay”.

#19 Rendezvous

We especially like ours at a hipster cafe or a spa. Say “ron-day-voo” and not “ren-day-vess”.

Hungry for more French? How about some French style: ELLE and Uniqlo are giving away 5 Uniqlo X Ines De La Fressange Cotton Rib Blousons, each worth $99.90. To win one, just answer the question “What would you wear on a French rendezvous and why? For styling tips, head here. Email your replies to elle_promo@mediacorp.com.sg by 15 Jan; most creative answers win!

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