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Grow Your Vocabulary: French Words in English: Part 2

Updated: Mar 10

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Introduction - Grow your Vocabulary - French Words in English

This is my second article on French words used in English.

In English we use many French words when we talk about food, and in particular, dining out.

It is useful to learn them so you will know what they mean when you hear or see them - to improve your English (or French).

So, here are a few common French words used in English to talk about food and drinks.

à la carte  pronounced /ɑː lɑː ˈkɑːt/

This is the practice of ordering individual dishes from a menu in a restaurant.

The alternative is to order from a set menu such as ‘chef’s suggestion’ or ‘soup of the day’. (Note the French words in this sentence.)

menu    (countable noun) pronounced /ˈmenjuː/ (plural: menus)

A menu is a list of dishes available in a restaurant.

"The waiter handed her a menu."

Also: ‘drop-down menu’ – a feature on websites that show a list of extra pages.

apéritif  (countable noun) pronounced /əˌperəˈtiːf/ /əˌpɛrɪˈtiːf/ (plural: aperitifs)

An aperitif is a drink (usually alcoholic) drunk before a meal to stimulate the appetite.

café  (countable noun) pronounced /ˈkæfeɪ/ (plural: cafés)

A café is a type of restaurant which serves coffee and tea, as well as light meals or snacks.

picnic  (countable noun and a verb) pronounced /ˈpɪknɪk/ (plural: picnics)

(past tense: picnics)

It is from a 17th Century French word, picque-nique.

It means to have an informal meal, brought in a picnic basket, often outside, sitting on the ground on a blanket.

Or at a table under a shady tree.

“We had a picnic of sandwiches on the riverbank last weekend.”

“We used to picnic there every weekend when we were kids.”

omelette (countable noun) pronounced /ɒmlət/ (plural: omelettes)

A flat round pancake made by mixing eggs together and cooking them in a pan.

“Cheese omelettes are delicious!”

bon appétit pronounced /bɒ̃ æpəˈti/ (sometimes ‘bon’)

It's a phrase used when someone is about to begin eating, to express the hope that they will enjoy the meal. It means ‘good appetite’.

hors d’oeuvre   (countable noun) pronounced /ɔː(r) dɜː(r)v/ (plural: hors d’oeuvres)

A small amount of food served before the main course of a meal.

“Please, have an hors d’oeuvre with your aperitif!”

vinaigrette   (non-countable noun) pronounced /vɪneɪˈɡret/

A light sauce for salads and cold vegetables, made from a mixture of oil, vinegar, and spices.

“This vinaigrette is delicious!”

restaurant (countable noun) pronounced /rest(ə)rɒnt/ (plural: restaurants)

A building or room where waiters serve meals and drinks to customers sitting at tables.

“His parents are opening a restaurant next door. It’s an Italian/Mexican restaurant.”

chef (means ‘boss’ in French and not only ‘cook’) (countable noun) pronounced /ʃef/

Someone paid to cook food in a restaurant. A head chef. (plural: chefs)

“They say the chef at the new restaurant has worked in many of the best French restaurants around the world.”


In this article, I have introduced and explained a small selection of French words. They are the more common ones, at least.

We find them used in English in the areas of cooking and dining.

Learning them will help grow your vocabulary.

Further Reading

If you missed it, I have another article for you to read on French words used in English.

Growing your vocabulary is a great idea to improve your English.

Also, in the article, I explain how you can increase your vocabulary, naturally and easily.

References Used:

Macmillan Dictionary

© Apex English Tutoring Feb 2021 - updated January 2024

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About Me

Hello and welcome!

My name is Michael Finemore and I am the owner-operator of Apex English Tutoring.

As an experienced English Teacher, I'm passionate about helping people turn their 'poor' English into great English, with easy and effective ways to practice.

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