All These Little French and American Words…


Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

Today two words for the letter M

  • one French word that is slightly altered in its English version but has the same meaning in France and the USA
  • one English word that is used in France and the USA with a different meaning



Aux USA un maitre d’hôtel est appelé maitre d’. Au pluriel ce sera maitre d’s.

Francophones would say maître d’hôtel (literally “master of the house” or “master of the establishment”) instead. French never uses “d'” alone. In French as in English, however, the meaning is the same.


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The French use the word ‘mail’ to designate their electronic mail.

Mail est le courrier postal aux USA, aussi appelé snail mail en comparaison avec le courrier électronique à réception instantanée. Aux USA on reçoit des e-mails (pour electronic mails).


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

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


See you tomorrow with the letter N.


  1. So, I relearned where the d came from in maitre d, which is something that I knew but slipped out of my mind. Thanks. 🙂 –Curt

    • When I heard it the first time, I wondered what it meant. I had to read the word to understand. Thank you again, Curt, for your support as I move on through the alphabet, which I find longer than it really is when I do this A to Z challenge.

  2. I think upscale USA restaurants actually call them maitre d’hotel, even if the clientele skips the hotel part 🙂

    Before we started calling electronic mail “e-mail,” it was just mail, as in the movie “You’ve got mail!” But eventually, that became confusing, so we attached e to mail, shortening it from “electronic mail” to “e-mail” or just email. Since “real” (snail) mail is getting rather scarce, except for packages, bills, and junk, I think it’s going to go the other way soon enough. All mail will be assumed to be electronic and we will have to specify if it ISN’T.

    • I agree on both of your points. As a fan of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks I like the movie “You’ve got mail.” I do remember the AOL phrase we could hear from our computer. And yes, snail mail gets scarce. Sad. I loved it when people wrote letters and sent postcards from their vacation. I still do it in the summer. Everyone likes it but less people do it in return.
      I still find it funny when I hear the French mention their e-mail as mail. Probably because of the way they pronounce it, too, with their adorable accent.

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