When you think of speaking French, what comes to mind?
If you’re picturing candlelit dinners, incredible art, and grand romance, you’re not alone.
Some of these beautiful French words were selected for their sound, while others were chosen based on their meaning.
Hear the Beautiful French Words:
Read by French Tutor Carol Beth L.
50 Beautiful French Words
- ange – angel (masc.)
- baleine – whale (fem.)
- bisou – kiss (masc.)
- brindille – twig (fem.)
- brûler – to burn
- brume – mist (fem.)
- câlin – hug (masc.)
- chaleur – heat (fem.)
- chatoyer – to shimmer
- chaussettes – socks (fem.)
- mon chouchou – my little cabbage, said as a term of endearment (masc.)
- citronnade – lemonade (fem.)
- citrouille – pumpkin (fem.)
- coquillage – seashell (masc.)
- croquis – sketch (masc.)
- dépaysement – the feeling of being in another country (masc.)
- doux – soft
- écarlate – scarlet
- éclatant – brilliant, dazzling, gleaming
- empêchement – a last minute difficulty (masc.)
- épanoui – blooming, joyful, radiant
- éphémère – ephemeral
- étoile – star (masc.)
- feuilles – leaves (fem.)
- flâner – to stroll aimlessly
- floraison – bloom (fem.)
- grelotter – to shiver
- hirondelle – swallow (bird) (fem.)
- libellule – dragonfly (fem.)
- loufoque – wild, crazy, far-fetched
- luciole – firefly (fem.)
- myrtille – blueberry (fem.)
- noix de coco – coconut (fem.)
- nuage – cloud (masc.)
- orage – thunderstorm (masc.)
- pamplemousse – grapefruit (masc.)
- papillon – butterfly (masc.)
- parapluie – umbrella (fem.)
- pastèque – watermelon (fem.)
- péripatéticien – wanderer (masc.)
- piscine – swimming pool (fem.)
- plaisir – pleasure (masc.)
- pleuvoir – to rain
- plonger – to dive
- retrouvailles – the happiness of seeing someone again after a long time (fem.)
- singulier – so odd it’s one of a time
- sirène – mermaid (fem.)
- soleil – sun (masc.)
- sortable – someone you can take anywhere without being embarrassed
- tournesol – sunflower (masc.)
Want to build your French vocabulary? Try these 10 tips to learning new words fast!
Learning new vocabulary can be one of the hardest parts of studying French because the words often seem strange and unusual. Use these tips to “decode” the language so you can memorize French vocabulary fast.
1. Look for Roots
When you can, memorize words that share a root at the same time.
For example, when you learn “écrire” (to write), you can also learn “écrivain” (writer) and “l’écrire” (the act of writing). This increases your vocabulary exponentially, plus words and their meanings will stick more clearly in your memory since you learned the whole family of words together.
2. Know Your Cognates
As you study French, make a list of French/English cognates (words that sound the same and share the same meaning).
To study, write your cognates on a piece of paper in two columns (one for French and one for English) and quiz yourself by folding the piece of paper vertically in half. Test your ability to remember both the English meaning and the French word.
3. Practice With Your Textbook
Most language books have illustrations of new vocabulary.
Looking at the illustrations, describe them using the vocabulary you already know or have studied, and then read the captions underneath the pictures to see how well you did. Notice how the new words are used in context.
4. Three is a Magic Number
If you’re really struggling to memorize vocabulary words, write each French word three times in French and once in English. Then write the French word again without looking back. Check to see if you wrote it correctly.
5. Listen and Repeat
Look for digital recordings of vocabulary words, pronounced in French and in English. Try listening to these once, then repeat each word in French while listening to it a second time. There are many great French videos on YouTube that can help you memorize vocabulary and also practice listening and speaking.
6. Use it in a Sentence
For each vocabulary word, write a sentence using it. Try to make your sentence memorable. Context is often a key to remembering new vocabulary.
7. Make Associations
Make associations with words you are familiar with in English.
For example, look at the French verb “rencontrer.” While it means to meet or find, another meaning is “to encounter.” Make the association between these two words so you will be able to recall both the meaning and the word itself in French.
8. French Word of the Day
Choose a ‘word of the day’ each day.
Each day, take the French word you have chosen to study and write it on a few post-its with or without its English equivalent. Place the post-its in places you will see them throughout the day, like the bathroom mirror, the monitor on your computer, or in your planner.
You’ll see the word many times as you go about your day, and by the end of the day you should have it memorized!
9. Write it Down
If your goal is to increase your vocabulary rapidly by quickly memorizing additional words in French, keep a notebook of new words you encounter in class, in books, and in conversations or talk on the radio that you hear. Keeping a written record of words you are learning allows you to review and track your progress.
10. Do it Daily
Make studying French vocabulary a regular part of your day.
The key to learning a new language rapidly is studying it regularly. It doesn’t have to be a long time; just a few minutes, each day, can make a huge difference.
Add even more beautiful words to your vocabulary by studying with a private tutor to learn how to speak French!
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