adresse address (of a place) (cognate); adroitness (cognate), skill. Note the second meaning, which English address obviously does not have. English adroit is from French. An important source of French oi is Latin e. Examples, quelle est ton adresse? (“what’s your address?”); l’artisan a réalisé cette figurine avec beaucoup d’adresse (“the craftsman made this figurine with great skill”). See also maladresse (“clumsiness”).
emplir to fill. Cognate with implement. The root part -plir is cognate with plenary (“fully attended”, said of a meeting). English implement originally meant “to supply a want”, “to fill up a need”. This word is more literary and less used than remplir (“to fill”). Not to be confused with English employ (French employer). If you use empty as a mnemonic, remember to reverse the meaning. See also remplir.
os bone. Cognate with ossify (“to turn into bone”), ossuary (“container of dead persons’ bones”), with the prefix of osteo-arthritis, osteo-porosis. Note the plural of os is still os, and s is pronounced /s/ in singular but generally silent in plural. Example, j’ai vu M. Bernard en chair et en os (“I saw Mr. Bernard in person / in the flesh”).
pente slope. Cognate with pending (literally “hanging”), with the root of suspend, depend, append. The sense of the original Latin word somehow changed from “to hang” to “to lean”, “to tilt” (as in penchant), hence the French meaning “slope”.
août August (cognate). Sometimes medial (in-word) g was lost going from Latin to French, just as in Latin ligare (hence English ligament) > French lier (“to link”), leger (hence English legible) > lire (“to read”). Examples, en août (“in August”); au mois d’août (“in the month of August”; note preposition à instead of en).
jupe skirt. Arabic origin. But jumper, a kind of loose jacket, may be related.
réclamer to claim, to demand, to call for, to protest, to complain. Cognate with reclaim. In spite of the cognation, this word is not quite the same as English reclaim, which may be translated as récupérer. The root -clamer literally means “to shout” while ré- is an intensifier. This word literally means “to shout strongly or loud”, as in calling to someone in demanding something. Example, une manifestation pour réclamer plus de liberté politique (“a demonstration to demand more political freedom”).
talon heel (of foot or shoe). Cognate with talon (“claw”). Think of the sharp heel of a high-heel shoe as the sharp claw of an animal. Example, talon d’Achille (“Achilles heel”).
dossier file, record; dossier; back of chair; (figuratively) issue, legal or administrative case. Cognate with dorsal, with the root of endorse. Hence the meaning of “back of something such as a chair”. The sense of “file” or “bundle of papers” is due to labels on their back. English dossier is from this word. Examples, dossiers médicaux (“medical records”); le dossier d’une chaise (“the back of a chair”).
débarrasser to get rid of, to clear. débarras storeroom, junk room; clearing, riddance. The root is cognate with bar. Literally, débarrasser means “to remove (dé-) a bar”. Think of opening a barred storage shed and clearing the junk inside. Examples, bon débarras! (“good riddance!”; the English and French words exactly match in meaning and structure; did Shakespeare coin this phrase as a calque from French?); comment se débarrasser des vieux téléphones portables? (“how do we get rid of old cell phones?”).
muet mute (cognate). Note that mute does exist in French, as a conjugated form of muter (“to mutate”), unrelated to muet. Example, film muet (“silent film”).
lutter to fight. lutte fight (n.). Cognate with the root of reluctant, which has an obsolete meaning of “to struggle against”, with the root of ineluctable (-luct-), which literally means “unable to fight / struggle out”. As a mnemonic, imagine the scene of loot, where the looters fight each other for treasures. Example, la lutte contre / pour (“the fight against / for”).
moral morale (n.) (cognate); moral (adj.). This word looks easy but note that as a noun, it means “morale” (“team members’ spirit”, esprit de corps), not “moral” (in the sense of “morality”, “ethics”), which, confusingly, would be morale in French. In short, when used as nouns, moral and morale are switched between English and French to match their meanings. Example, remonter le moral (“to cheer (someone) up”); je n’ai pas le moral (“I’m feeling really down”; note this does not mean “I don’t have morals”, and note French moral can refer to one person’s spirit while English morale is generally said of a team). See also morale.
clé, clef key. Cognate with clef (“a key symbol in music staff”), clavier (“keyboard instrument”), clave (“a percussion instrument”), with the first element of clavichord (“an early keyboard instrument”), with the root of conclave (“a closed-door meeting in a secret place which you have to enter with a key”). These two words and their plurals are homophones (pronounced the same); letter f in French clef is silent. The two words are interchangeable but clé is more common than clef in recent decades. Example, la clé de la porte (“the key to the door”; note preposition de, not à).
chagrin sorrow, grief, sadness, unhappiness. Note that while English chagrin is from French, it means “distress due to failure, disgrace, embarrassment, etc.”. The French word does not imply humiliation or disgrace and refers to a mental state not necessarily related to a specific event. Examples, il exprimé son immense chagrin après le décès de son ami (“he expressed his immense grief after the death of his friend”); chagrin d’amour (“lovesickness”, “unrequited love”).
mordre to bite. English mordant (“biting”) is from French mordant.
voile veil (masc. n.) (cognate); sail, sailing (fem. n.). voiler to veil, to cover. From Latin velum; Latin long e often changed to oi in French. Voile in its first sense has entered English vocabulary (“thin, translucent fabric”). Not to be confused with veille (“eve”; “vigil”). To explain the gender-meaning differences: voile meaning “sail” went through vela, plural of velum (just like curricula for curriculum), the -a ending probably making the French word more prone to be feminine. If a mnemonic is needed for the gender, you really have to reverse the thinking because a veil is more likely associated with a woman. Examples, planche à voile (“sailboard”); lever le voile (“to unveil”, “to reveal”).
coûter to cost (cognate). Medial (in-word) s in st often disappeared in the development of French, and the preceding vowel was accented with a diacritic mark. Examples, combien ça coûte? (“how much is it?”, “how much does it cost?”); ça coûte cher (“it’s expensive”, “it costs dearly”).
To sample page 4
Back to sample page 2 To Homepage