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  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of France, its inhabitants, or their language, culture, etc.: French cooking.
  1. the people of France and their direct descendants.
  2. a Romance language spoken in France, parts of Belgium and Switzerland, and in areas colonized after 1500 by France.
verb (used with object)
  1. (often lowercase) to prepare (food) according to a French method.
  2. (often lowercase) to cut (snap beans) into slivers or thin strips before cooking.
  3. (often lowercase) to trim the meat from the end of (a rib chop).
  4. (often lowercase) to prepare (meat) for cooking by slicing it into strips and pounding.
  5. Slang. to short-sheet (a bed).
  6. (often lowercase) Slang: Vulgar. to give oral stimulation of the penis or vulva.

Origin of French1

before 1150; Middle English Frensh, French, Old English Frenc(sc). See Frank, -ish1
Related formsFrench·ness, noun


  1. AliceOctave Thanet, 1850–1934, U.S. novelist and short-story writer.
  2. Daniel Chester,1850–1931, U.S. sculptor.
  3. Sir John Den·ton Pink·stone [den-tn pingk-stohn, -stuh n] /ˈdɛn tn ˈpɪŋk stoʊn, -stən/, 1st Earl of Ypres,1852–1925, English field marshal in World War I.
  4. Marilyn,1929–2009, U.S. novelist and nonfiction writer.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for french


  1. the official language of France: also an official language of Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, and certain other countries. It is the native language of approximately 70 million people; also used for diplomacy. Historically, French is an Indo-European language belonging to the Romance groupSee also Old French, Anglo-French
  2. the French (functioning as plural) the natives, citizens, or inhabitants of France collectively
  3. See French vermouth
  1. relating to, denoting, or characteristic of France, the French, or their languageRelated prefixes: Franco-, Gallo-
  2. (in Canada) of or relating to French Canadians
Derived FormsFrenchness, noun

Word Origin

Old English Frencisc French, Frankish; see Frank


  1. Sir John Denton Pinkstone, 1st Earl of Ypres. 1852–1925, British field marshal in World War I: commanded the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium (1914–15); Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1918–21)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for french



Old English frencisc "of the Franks," from Franca (see Frank). The noun is from Old English Frencisc. As the name of a language, from late 13c.

Euphemistic meaning "bad language" (pardon my French) is from 1895. Used in many combination-words, often dealing with food or sex. French dressing recorded by 1860; French toast is from 1630s. French letter "condom" (c.1856, perhaps on resemblance of sheepskin and parchment), French (v.) "perform oral sex on" (c.1917) and French kiss (1923) all probably stem from the Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication, a sense first recorded 1749 in the phrase French novel.

To take French leave, "depart without telling the host," is 1771, from a social custom then prevalent. However, this is said to be called in France filer à l'anglaise, literally "to take English leave."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper