This Day in History
On this day in 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France and one of the greatest military leaders in history, abdicates the throne, and, in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, is banished to the Mediterranean island of Elba.
To mark this historic event, I’ve decided to include a list of French words that, like Napoleon, has ventured out of their native country. While there are over 80,000 English words with a French origin, naturally not all of them can be included in this list. I’ve chosen one for each letter of the alphabet (except for Y) that I found to be the most interesting or the most surprising.
If you have some you’d like to include, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Fr.: à gogo, Beach Blanket A-Go-Go!
Old Fr.: bacon
Named for Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac
Old Fr.: desfait, pp. of desfaire, compare Mod. Fr. défaite
Old Fr.: estaise, compare modern Fr. extase
Old Fr.: faerie, compare Mod. Fr. féerie
From Old French gingembras, gingimbrat
From Old French idiote
From Old French couvrechief
Old Fr. langage
Old Fr. merveillos, compare mod. Fr. merveilleux
Old Fr. orenge, compare Mod. Fr. orange
Anglo-Fr. pentiz, from Old Fr. apentis
Old French quiter
From Middle French dialect (compare French dialect rabbotte, rabouillet (“baby rabbit”))
Anglo-Fr. surgerie, from Old Fr. serurgie, cirurgie, compare Mod. Fr. chirurgie
First used during French Revolution. The word first appears in English in 1795 in reference to the Jacobins of France, who ruled during the ‘Reign of Terror.’
From Old French universitei
From velours, velvet, and crochet, hook
Old N. Fr. warderobe (Old Fr. garderobe)
Fr. chébec, from Italian sciabecco, from Arabic shabbak
Fr. zani, from Italian Zanni [“Johnny”]