Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordsmith Wednesday: What do the French call a French kiss?

This may come as a surprise (it did to me), but the French don't have a term for "French Kiss." I think we can interpret this to mean that they don't think it's anything special to exchange tongues with your partner — it's just part of kissing — and indeed American servicemen returning from liberating France after World War II reported that "those French women really know how to kiss!" And depictions of tongue-kissing were banned from American films for quite some time.

Well, the 2014 Petit Robert dictionary, perhaps concerned about the impact the lack of a term for French kissing might be having on the already-low French birth rate, has recently proposed one — a very odd concept for Americans, who kind of just wait for a new word to arrive naturally — coming up with the verb galocher, which is derived from the word for an ice-skating boot, the idea apparently being that a French kiss is kind of sliding around on the ice, but with your lips and tongue.

You can love it or hate it, but when it comes to new words, it's the storied Académie française — the arbiter of the French that's been around since 1635 — that has the final say on whether galocher will be accepted as official French or fall through the ice.  Stay tuned: The really — um — juicy part about the French word for kiss comes next week!


  1. Replies
    1. Would this be translated literally as 'to roll the skin? Like so many French expressions, that somehow seems perfect. In the Wiktionary I found four synonyms in Wiktionary:


      rouler un patin (not sure what patin is)
      rouler une galoche (roll the rain boots?)


  2. J'ai entendu beaucoup d'histoires à propos de le mot correct pour 'kissing.' Mon ami a été réprimandé quand il dit à son amie qu'il voulait 'la baiser'. Il a découvert plus tard que le terme approprié est embrasser. Ouch.

    Bill Stewart


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