Beautiful Words in French

Welcome to our collection of beautiful French words.

French is one of those languages where basically every word sounds incredible, so this was a really fun list of words to compile. In addition to these French words sounding so lovely, it’s likely that a lot of them will also sound familiar to you, since many English words have been adopted from French roots. So while you’ll hopefully find this list to be a source of thought-provoking words that are both meaningful and aesthetically pleasing, you might also find it a little educational as you start recognising the sounds and shapes of beautiful words that you already use every day.

Beauty has a very broad and varied definition, so when choosing French words for this assortment, we tried to match that diversity of meaning and intention.Feel free to note any unique words you find and use them in your own writing, blogs, poems or conversation. No matter your search or purpose, we have plenty of beautiful French words for you to choose from. There are French adjectives for you to flatter or describe a loved one with, words that capture the emotion behind short-lived circumstances, and mysterious French words that have no direct English translation. Whether you’re looking for pretty French words that can explain experiences or words to name a feeling, we’ve got you covered with our growing collection of words in French.

If you’re looking at this list, you’re already interested in French, so let’s look a little deeper at the language itself. French is widely spoken around the world, with around 75 million native speakers. It isn’t confined solely to France – it’s recognised as an official languages in 29 countries (including Canada, Vanuatu, Switzerland, Haiti and Belgium)- so if you’re travelling, picking up some French words (especially lovely ones like these) will definitely help in keeping your options open. Even though it has a reputation for being a romantic language, it’s considered highly useful in business, trade and diplomacy, coming in third after only English and Mandarin Chinese.

Most of the French language was derived from Latin and Greek. In more recent times, French has also borrowed words from English, Italian, ancient Germanic languages, Arabic, Spanish, Dutch and more. Even though most of French has come from Latin, a study comparing the similarities of the different Romance languages shows that French has the greatest distance from Latin, and is most similar to Italian.

English has taken a LOT of words from French, with various sources estimating that about 45% of all English words have a French origin. Although they’re usually pronounced in accordance with English rules of phonology rather than those of French, they generally retain their French spelling, including their diacritic markings, which is generally a nice incentive or side-benefit for English users to start learning French. In turn, French has taken on many words from English, with many words being introduced through American culture. Part of what makes English so easy to take on in other languages is its versatility and adaptability – English is always forming new words and creating new meanings for words that already exist. While Francophones are able to change and grow their language, it’s at a comparatively slow rate.

French has many sounds that don’t exist in English. It’s a very rhythmic, melodious language, with rolling syllables and throaty accents and staccatos that can make it hypnotic to listen to. Even cute words like “tohu-bohu”, soft words like “coeur” or nice words like “chouchou” have an atmosphere and mystery that similar English words don’t.

Although the pronunciation is very different, it does have similarities with English – such as the same 26 basic letters, which makes French a more accessible language read and write than those based on pictographs. In addition to these letters, French also uses four different diacritic marks, which denote different accents.

French is also a gendered language, which means that every French noun is assigned a gender of either masculine or feminine. Irritatingly, plural nouns referring to a group composed of both masculine and feminine entities are understood to be masculine.

One of the most exciting things about looking for kind words or beautiful words in another language is that you might find a unique word with a beautiful meaning to describe a feeling that you haven’t yet been able to pin with the limited vocabulary available to you in English.

List of Beautiful Words in French

  • chatoyer (v.) to gleam or glisten.
  • coeur (n.) heart.
  • aléatoire (adj.) random, uncertain.
  • gentillesse (n.) kindness.
  • coccinelle (n.) ladybird
  • esperance (n.) hope.
  • dépaysement (v.) to leave your comfort zone.
  • vachement (adj.) very, truly, genuinely
  • empêchement (n.) a last minute change of plans
  • tohu-bohu (adj.) chaos, confusion; anything that disrupts peace and causes pandemonium.
  • profiter (v). making the most of a situation.
  • épater (v.) to amaze, shock, or impress.
  • savoir-faire (n.) know-how, canniness, knowledge in solving practical problems.
  • amourette (n.) a short romantic relationship.
  • bisou (n.) a friendly kiss.
  • étoile (n.) a star or something star-shaped.
  • luciole (n). a firefly.
  • brume (n.) mist.
  • chouchou (n.) little cabbage (a term of endearment <3)
  • epanoui (adj.) radiant, bright, joyful, blooming
  • retrovailles (n.) the joy of seeing someone again that you haven’t seen in a long time.
  • joli (adj.) pretty.
  • arc-en-ciel (n): rainbow.
  • lueur (n.) glow
  • soigné (adj.) having an aura of polish and elegance.
  • souhaiter (v.) to wish, or hope
  • intrépide (adj.) fearless.
  • serein (n.) a fine, mist-like rain that falls from a clear sky either at sundown or early evening.
  • enchanté (phr.) nice to meet you.
  • heureux (n.) happy.
  • loisible (adj.) having the freedom to do as you please.
  • apaisant (adj.) soothing.
  • bouleversant (adj.) deeply moving, overwhelming and affecting.
  • quatervois (n.) a crossroads or important decision. a turning point in one’s life.:
  • sillage (n.) the impression left in a space after someone has been and gone; left in traces of perfume or scent, things left behind, or echoes of sound.
  • trouvaille (n.) an encounter with something wonderful that happens by chance and luck rather than design.
  • liberté (n.) freedom.
  • ciel (n.) sky.
  • croire (v.) to believe
  • inoubliable (adj.) unforgettable.
  • éblouissant (adj.) dazzling, glorious
  • recherche (adj.) carefully picked, rare, unusual.
  • raconteur (n.) a skillful storyteller.
  • effleurage (v.) to gently stroke as you might a flower; a series of light, gentle touches used in massage.

If you’ve read our post on French and decided that you’d like to learn a bit more, Babbel, FluentU and Duolingo are all great resources, especially if you think you’d like to actually start learning French. Remember that French is thought to be one of the easiest languages for a native English speaker to pick up due to its similar alphabet and simpler grammar and sentence structure. Since they both have Latin roots, they also share thousands of loanwords. If you’re also interested in teaching yourself to be multilingual, learning French is a great gateway to understanding other Romance languages (like Italian or Spanish).If you don’t fancy joining a website or group classes, you can always pursue French with apps. Babbel, FluentU and Duolingo do all have their own apps, but if you don’t like their style or set-up, some others you can try are Busuu, Classics2Go, Brainscape French, Rosetta Stone and Le Conjugueur. Don’t forget that podcasts can be handy too (French101 is great) and another free way to expose yourself to French words is to listen to French radio, or translate your websites to French (or go to French newspaper websites). There are also plenty of French learning and language blogs out there, like Talk in French and French Together. If you’ve already started learning and need more ways to listen and immerse, you can always find some French vloggers or cartoons on Youtube to follow.

These words were found in various blogs, educational sites, and collections around the web. Sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, and FluentU were all wildly helpful in building this growing collection, as were various online dictionaries. Though I do like to travel around the internet and furrow around in books for help with coming up with these entries, I am careful to write all of the meanings myself – so if you see anything in your online travels that looks a little too much like something I’ve written, it’s an unintentional similarity. If it’s a problem, let us know and we’ll get onto it ASAP.

While we’ve been very careful in our research and compilation, we are still definitely human (unfortunately) and prone to error. So if you see any corrections or updates to our French words that need to be made, please don’t be shy – either leave a comment or get in contact and let us know. We’ll be onto it as soon as we can.

If you have any words that you think should be added to this list, we’d love to hear from you. Found a new favourite word? A beautiful meaning? A positive word you related to and wanted to share? Or perhaps a great new source of interesting French words on Tumblr, Twitter, or Pinterest? Tell us about your linguistic inter-web travels!

Bon voyage.