Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Fun and Easy French by FrenchPod101.com!
Did you know that there are French words without a English counterpart?
Do you want to know what they are? Watch until the end to find out!
Salut, je suis Lya.
Hi everyone! I’m Lya.
In this lesson, you’ll learn the ten most common untranslatable French words.
And by untranslatable, I mean, words that simply cannot be translated with just one word.
You’ll need a bit of explanation to truly understand their meaning.
So, in this video, you'll get ten untranslatable words, an explanation of what they mean, as well as an example sentence for each one.
So, let’s jump right in. Number one.
Literally, "love-killer"
[SLOW] Tue-l’amour
Tue-l’amour is something that causes you to stop loving or liking someone else. Like a deal breaker or a turn off. It could be a personality trait or a behavior. You can use this word as a joke or in serious situations.
Have a look at our example of how to use it
Sa nouvelle coupe de cheveux est un vrai tue-l’amour !
"His new hairstyle is a real passion killer!"
[SLOW] Sa nouvelle coupe de cheveux est un vrai tue-l’amour !
Sa nouvelle coupe de cheveux est un vrai tue-l’amour !
Let’s move on to number two:
Literally, "un-country-ness"
[SLOW] Dépaysement
This describes the feeling you get when you’re away from your home, outside of your comfort zone, doing something new, or breaking your routine. So it can be used in a positive or a negative way.
Just have a look at the following example:
J’aime le Népal car le dépaysement y est total.
"I love Nepal because it’s a complete change of scenery."
[SLOW] J’aime le Népal car le dépaysement y est total.
J’aime le Népal car le dépaysement y est total.
And now our number three:
Literally, "to yogurt"
[SLOW] Yaourter
This is when you’re making sounds or mumbling along to a song because you don’t know the lyrics. The verb Yaourter refers to the strange sounds that result from this singing "technique," which is considered the vocal equivalent of yogurt in regard to its texture.
Fun fact: the French often "yogurt" their way through English songs on karaoke nights.
Here’s an example:
Elle a yaourté de la K-pop toute la soirée.
"She’s been yogurting K-pop songs all night long."
We’ll continue with number four:
Literally, "to know how to make"
[SLOW] Savoir faire
Savoir faire
A savoir-faire refers to the skill, experience and "know-how" needed to make a product or provide a service.
For example,
La France est connue pour son savoir-faire en matière de vin.
"France is known to be competent when it comes to wine."
Next is number five:
[SLOW] Bof
Bof is used to express indecisiveness or indifference. The closest English word for it would be "meh."
Let me show you how it works with some examples:
A: On va au cinéma demain, tu veux venir ?
B: Bof
A: "We’re going for a movie tomorrow; do you want to come?"
B: "Meh"
C: Alors, est-ce que le film vous a plu ?
D: Bof bof... c’est pas extraordinaire.
C: "So, did you like the movie?"
D: "Meh… nothing special."
We’ll move on to number six:
Literally, "that cannot be taken out."
[SLOW] Insortable
You can use insortable to describe someone who you simply cannot go out with, because they have bad manners and are embarrassing to be around.
This can be used in a serious statement, but it’s often said as a joke about someone with bad habits or someone who has made questionable fashion choices.
For example,
Il est sympa ton copain mais il est vraiment insortable.
"Your boyfriend is nice but he’s really not fit for society."
And now number seven:
Literally, "see there."
[SLOW] Voilà
Voilà is the grammatical contraction of the imperative Vois là, or "see there," and it has various meanings:
You can use it to introduce a person, a thing, or an action so that others can see for themselves.
Voilà la personne que vous attendiez.
"Here is the person you were waiting for."
You can use it to mark the current state of a situation, as in
Voilà qui est fait.
"Now, that’s done."
You can use it to highlight things that have been said or explained.
Voilà la raison.
"That was the reason."
And you can even use Voilà to end to a conversation without being rude. For example:
Voilà. or Voilà voilà.
"That’s it."
Et voilà
"And there you go."
Enfin… voilà.
"Well… that’s it."
Next is our number eight:
Literally, "to cardboard"
[SLOW] Cartonner
Meaning, "to be very successful at something," or "to be a hit," the word Cartonner originally comes from shooting galleries at fairs, where the targets were often made of cardboard. So, although it’s only used figuratively nowadays, the word Cartonner used to describe the action of literally hitting the target.
Ce film va cartonner en Europe.
"This movie will be a hit in Europe."
Il a cartonné à son examen de Français.
"He totally aced his French exam."
Ça cartonne !
"It rocks!"
We’re almost finished; next is number nine:
[SLOW] Rebelote
The closest translation to rebelote would be "and then all over again." So you would use rebelote to talk about things that either repeat once or happen over and over again.
This word comes from the French card game La Belote, where Belote and Rebelote happen when a player gets the Queen and King in their hand.
For example,
Je nettoie tout le matin et rebelote le soir.
"I clean everything in the morning and then all over again in the evening."
Il a plu des cordes hier, et le lendemain : rebelote !
"It was raining buckets yesterday and then again on the next day!"
And finally, number ten:
Literally, "anti-meaning"
[SLOW] Contresens
This is said when an interpretation or translation of something is completely wrong or the complete opposite of what was meant. You can also use it to describe situations that go against common sense.
For example,
Cette traduction est un contresens.
"This translation is a severe misinterpretation."
Vouloir réconcilier écologie et capitalisme est un contresens.
"Trying to reconcile ecology and capitalism is complete nonsense."
Oh, and here’s a bonus word since you stuck around until the end.
[SLOW] Ratrucher
This means to thoroughly scrape a plate or dish until there’s nothing left to eat, and it’s taken as a compliment by the chef.
For example,
Elle ratruche toujours son assiette en fin de repas.
"She always thoroughly scrapes her plate clean after a meal."
In this lesson, you learned a whole bunch of untranslatable French words... but there’s always more to learn!
That’s it for today!
A la prochaine!
See you next time!


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FrenchPod101.com Verified
Friday at 06:30 PM
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Did you like this lesson?

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 07:39 AM
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Salut John Treacy,

You are very very welcome. 😇❤️️ We were so happy to read your positive message!

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

We wish you good luck with your language studies.

Bonne journée,


Team FrenchPod101.com

John Treacy
Friday at 07:04 AM
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This lesson is really fantastic. Wonderful, in fact. Could we please have some more like this. Thanks John.