All These Little French and American Words…



Two words today for the A to Z Challenge

*one French, one English

*each one with two different meanings, whether the word is used in France or in the USA



Quand ma fille m’annonça que je n’avais pas à m’occuper de son Corsage pour la prom et que la mère du garçon qui l’accompagnerait s’en chargerait, je n’ai d’abord rien compris. Pourquoi une femme que je ne connaissais pas achèterait un Corsage pour ma fille? C’est ainsi que j’ai découvert le Corsage américain.

Aux USA, un corsage désigne le petit arrangement floral glissé au poignet des filles, comme un bracelet, le plus souvent pour aller à la prom, sorte de gala qui concerne particulièrement les élèves des deux dernières années de lycée (juniors et seniors). Un corsage ou chemisier est une Blouse aux USA.


Embed from Getty Images


When my daughter told me that her date’s mother would take care of her Corsage for the prom, I was initally suprised. Why would a woman I had never met buy a Corsage for my own daughter? It’s how I learned what an American Corsage is.

The translation of the French word Corsage is Blouse in English. Blouse in French can be translated either by smock, overalls, white coat, or still lab coat, depending of the context. The piece of clothing that’s called Blouse here is most often called Chemisier in France, from the word Chemise that means (among other things) Shirt.



In France the word Car designates a bus, either used for school transportation, charter tour, or for any other transportation anywhere but the city, where a Car will be called Bus.


Car ne désigne qu’une voiture aux USA. On dira toujours Bus aux USA, que ce soit pour un transport urbain, rural ou scolaire. On précisera par contre la nature du transport : school bus, charter bus, par exemple.


Do you know of another French or English word starting with the letter C that has a different meaning whether it’s used in France or the USA?

Connaissez-vous un autre mot français ou anglais commençant par la lettre C qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?

See you tomorrow for the letter D.



  1. Oh I do like these false friends.
    At the moment nothing in particular comes to mind, but I do come across similar things all the time in my German lessons.

    • Thanks, Solveig. I thought that these false friends would make an interesting A to Z challenge. Do you mean that you also have English words used in German that have a different meaning?
      I must admit that a few letters will be a real challenge for me. I’ll see when I get there. See you soon on your blog.

  2. I love this! My French is much too rusty (these days the only chance I get to practice it is with the Haitian man who does our yard every month), so I’ll be looking forward to a month-long treat of tidbits to practice.

    Here in Curaçao, languages are a mess. Everyone speaks four: Dutch, Papiamentu, Spanish, and English. So you can imagine how much of a mix goes on in everyday conversation—and in spelling (which freaks me out… I’m a grammar Nazi, hahaha).

    Happy A2Z-ing!
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs (and member of co-host Damyanti’s team, D’s Company )

    • So glad you bumped into my blog. I’ve never been to Curaçao but your few words about the languages make me want to find out more. Hope to see you again with this series of false friends I intend to complete in a month. Wish me luck!

  3. Ha! I’d never guessed these meanings.

  4. That’s funny, but now you have me curious. What is the French word for the flowers your daughter wore to the prom?

    • No, I use the free Getty Images when I don’t have any personal photos or don’t want to use them. My daughters have had all kind of pretty “corsages,” but I found this one especially pretty and perfect for the French who don’t know about this tradition.
      Thank you, in any case, for stopping over.

  5. Oh my goodness, I love your challenge! I can’t wait to see what you do next…


  6. I find these fascinating! I have some trouble remembering that a “bus” can be called a “car” when we go to France. I didn’t know the word “corsage” in French, alors merci! Est-ce qu’il est très utilisé ? Je ne l’ai jamais entendu…je n’ai appris que le mot “chemisier” pour ça.

  7. Those are big differences. Thanks 🙂

    • They can be surprising for a new comer. Boutoniere is another one since it goes hand in hand with corsage. It’s a button hole in French and not the flower slipped in the button hole of a man’s jacket. Hope to see you later with more surprising words.

  8. I did NOT know corsage in French! Merci.

    • It’s a slightly older word now, and “chemisier” is the word used to name the shirt women wear. But when I was a kid “corsage” was still the most common way to name a woman’s shirt.
      In any case, it never meant what it means here.
      Funny to realize how an identical word can mean two very different things. That’s how I started to think of this challenge.
      I’m glad if you learned a new word and I hope to see you again soon. Thank you.

      • I’ve never heard anything other than chemise. Not chemesier, not once. But then, six weeks in Quebec is not a lifetime in France. 😉 I do enjoy these posts and have now subscribed via email.

      • Yup, France and Quebec can be quite different. I love Quebec by the way. Thank you for your support that I appreciate. Best to you.

  9. J’adore cette idée des faux amis . Pour la lettre C il y avait aussi cake qui est en français un gâteau de forme particulière souvent avec des fruits confits , mais il y a aussi l’expression familière “faire tout un cake ” ou “faire un cake nerveux” qui signifie en faire toute une histoire .

    • J’ai totalement manqué ce commentaire, Ellen. Sorry! Surtout que cake aurait été an effet une super idée! Je dis “en faire tout un plat” ou “tout un fromage.” Je ne connaissais pas en faire tout un cake. Merci!

  10. I love these quaint “faux friends” now that I know them. But it can be really frustrating sometimes when you try to say something in either language and the person you’re talking to just looks at you blankly because your sentence made no sense or the word you used doesn’t exist or is not quite the same !

    • Oh, yeah, I know what you mean! I made so many people laugh when I was new in the US and kept translating our French expressions into English. They made no sense at all! Funny now. A little embarrassing and frustrating back then. Thank you for stopping by.
      Love the name Miss Trouvailles!

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