All These Little French and American Words…

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge!

 Four words for the letter R

* Four French words with similar spelling, except for one, in French and English, but different meanings whether it’s used in France or the USA



The French word “robe” designates a woman’s dress, but also the apparel of the clergy or the black cloak worn by lawyers and judges. It is also used to describe the color of wine and to designate the coat of some animals, particularly horses and cattle. But a robe in French is never a dressing gown or a bathrobe.

Aux Etats Unis le mot robe désigne aussi le vêtement porté par le clergé et les juges. Mais une robe est aussi un peignoir et un peignoir de bain se dira “bathrobe.”


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Celui ci est un clin d’oeil à mes premières semaines aux USA et aussi parce qu’un blogueur français l’a évoqué au début de ce challenge.

Rendez-vous est en effet l’un de ces petits mots de la vie quotidienne qui m’a mis dans des situations amusantes, voire embarrassantes, dans mes premiers temps en Californie, quand j’ai appelé par exemple le pédiatre et le gynéco pour leur demander un rendez-vous. J’ai aussi pris rendez-vous avec le coiffeur et quelques mamans que je venais de rencontrer pour nous retrouver au terrain de jeux. Sans commentaire.

Aux Etats Unis on dit “appointmentpour tous rendez-vous professionnels.

Rendezvous s’utilise pour un rendez-vous amoureux et s’écrit sans trait d’union.


One small word that put me in funny and even embarrassing situations in my early days in California when I called my baby’s pediatrician and my OB to book a rendezvous. I also called a hairstylist and a couple of moms I had just met for a rendezvous as well. No comment.

I had an excuse: in France rendez-vous means appointment, regardless of the type of rendez-vous.

In French rendez-vous is hyphenated.



Le mot résumé désigne un curriculum vitae pour les américains.

In French, résumé means summary. French speakers would use instead curriculum vitæ, or its abbreviation, C.V.


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Risqué aux Etats Unis se traduit par “osé” en français.

In French, the meaning of risqué is “risky,” with no sexual connotation. Otherwise the French would use “osé” (daring). “Osé” is not used for people themselves, only for things (such as pictures, movies…) or attitudes.



Do you know of a French or English word starting with the letter R 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 R qui a un sens différent selon qu’il soit utilisé en France ou aux Etats Unis?


See you tomorrow with the letter S



  1. Sisyphus47 says:

    Un autre article bien intéressant, chère Evelyne, “risqué” est bien un faux ami! Quel challenge! 🙂

  2. I remember you writing about rendezvous a while back – still makes me smile. You’re closing in on the end of April in fine form!

    • With rendezvous what is retrospectively funny is that nobody told me that it was not really appropriate. It took me some time to understand my mistake. These false friends create good memories. Thanks, dan, for the support. The end of the month is getting closer but the last letters are tough! Any idea for Y and X? Sent it my way…

      • The only ‘x-word’ I can think of (and I’m not really sure it’s French, is xénophobe. I think it means the same in both countries, but I think the meaning might be perceived differently. Still, with all the recent activity (terrorism, politics, etc.) I’m not sure I would wish that term on you – how about xylophone? Is that French? (probably means the same).

        We have at least one brand of Yogurt that tries to pass itself off as French. I believe the word has mideastern origins, so I’m not sure you even have yogurt in France. Not that that would stop most Americans from thinking that yogurt is French.

        I feel kind of limited in my understanding of the world right now 🙂

  3. Interesting that “risque” is nice and safe in France. Thanks for always clarifying vocabulary for us!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer. Risqué in French is not really safe since it means risky but the word doesn’t carry any sexual connotation. For example, I could say that opening a bookstore (a dream of mine!) is risqué since it’s a challenging business now days.
      See you on your blog!

  4. Curriculum Vitae or C.V. is also in common usage in the U.S. C.V. is more popular in academic circles, résumé in business. In theory, a résumé ought to be a concise summary of work experience, preferably that will fit on a single page … but somewhere, brevity got lost.

  5. Agree. Résumé, however, remains very popular and never means CV in France.
    In the publishing industry editors and agents use résumé but my daughter at the university talks sometimes of her CV. Thank you again for visiting me, Marilyn.

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