All These Little French and American Words…


Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Two words today:

*one English, one French

*two interpretations, whether they are used in the USA or in France



The French use the English word Dressing to designate their walk-in closet, not the Dressing they favor for their salad.


Embed from Getty Images


Le placard à vêtements des français se dit closet ou walking closet aux USA.

Dressing, le participe présent du verbe to dress, décrit l’acte de s’habiller, ainsi que l’assaisonnement des salades.



Tout comme les français, les américains utilisent le mot français Début pour décrire une première apparition sur scène pour un artiste or en public pour une personnalité. Par contre le mot Debut sera toujours au singulier et la plupart du temps sans accent. Il sera aussi utilisé pour décrire un premier roman.


In French, début means “beginning.”

The word has the same English meaning but only in the plural form. For example To make one’s debut on the stage will be in French Faire ses débuts sur scène.

The French don’t call a first novel a Debut novel but Un premier roman.

In all these different forms, the word Début will always have an accent on the E.


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

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

See you tomorrow for the letter E.


  1. You could expand this a little further if you include regions of the States, Evelyne. In the south, ‘Dressing’ is what we in New England call ‘Stuffing’ – it goes in the turkey, not on your salad. Kind of the inverse of the French meaning…

    I am enjoying this series (I may say that every day).

    • That’s right, Dan. We also dress a wound. There are so many meanings to a single word that I will have to limit to the most familiar, I think. Otherwise the posts might be too long. But there is definitely a lot of material to explore from both languages. Thank you for yoru support.

  2. I’m thoroughly enjoying these quirks of English and French. Thank you for these posts, Evelyne.

  3. Great post, Evelyne! Truly aspects that make a language rich. Loved the ‘walking closet’. A little like ‘le shampooing’? : ) And, of course, English does a great job of borrowing (and slaughtering) French. Now that Italian becomes trendier, my kids groan at ‘two cappuccinos’ or ‘one biscotti’ when we’re back in the US.

    • Oops you got me, Kimberly! I meant “walk-in closet” and not “walking closet.” Thanks for WP quick edit.
      Shampooing was on my list for the letter S, actually, in case I didn’t find a word that was spelled the same but had a different meaning either in France or in the US.
      I’m sure that you must have funny conversations with your kids, too. Do they speak English with a slight Italian accent like mine speak French with this adorable American accent? BTW I love cappuccinos and biscottis wherever I am and in which ever language! See you, Kimberly.

  4. Address: Where you live and to speak to. Redress: To put your clothes back on and to right a wrong. 🙂 –Curt

    • Right! Same two meanings in French with a slight different spelling for Address.
      Same meaning for To right a wrong in French with a slight different spelling. But we don’t say Redress when we put our clothes back on. We say Se Rhabiller or Rhabiller.
      Thank you, Curt.

  5. Et faites attention à ne pas commander une pansement pour votre salade verte, n’est-ce pas ? C’est un danger quand on utilise une traduction automatique dans un restaurant 🙂

  6. Evelyne, after all these years of studying French, you have no idea how much I’m learning from your series … already! Mille mercis!

%d bloggers like this: