German Language Blog

French Loan Words In German Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in Language

Guten Tag! We have talked before about loanwords in the German language. There is quite a big crossover of both English words used in German, and German words used in English. However, did you know that there are many French words used in the German language, too? And many of these are everyday words we may not immediately recognise as being French!

Here are just some of the many French loan words in the German language. I have included their gender after the word, and extra information for some of them. Some are more obvious than others. Which ones did you know about before? Do any come as a surprise?

Image via Pixabay

German Words With French Roots

Abonnement, das – subscription
To use a very modern example: If you watch German YouTubers, at the end of their videos they usually say “Bitte ein Abo da lassen!” (“Please hit ‘subscribe’!”). ‘Abo’ is short for Abonnement.

Affäre, die – affair

aktuell – current
This is a good example of a false friend – a word that looks like it should mean one thing, when it means another. An English speaker would think aktuell translates to ‘actual’ but it means ‘current’. This is because the word comes from the French ‘actuel’.

Balkon, der – balcony

Image via Pixabay

Ballon, der – balloon
Think Nena’s classic song, 99 Luftballons!

Bonbon, der/das – bonbon (a sweet)

Büro, das – office

Café, das – cafe

Champignon, der – mushroom

Chef, der – boss
Another false friend. You can read about this word here.

Dame, die – lady/woman
Remember, in German you pronounce the letter ‘e’. So Dame is pronounced ‘Dah-meh’ in German!

Dusche, die/duschen – shower/to shower

Etikette, die – etiquette

Etui, das – case (small bag)

Friseur, der – hairdresser

Idee, die – idea

Kompliment, das – compliment

Kostüm, das – costume

Kuvert, das – envelope

Image via Pixabay

Omelett(e), das – omelette

Onkel, der – uncle

Parfüm, das – perfume

Pommes, die – fries (chips in British English)
Known as Pommes Frites in French, in German the word has been shortened to just Pommes. This is pronounced ‘pomm-ess’ in German, unlike in French, where it is pronounced ‘pomm’.

Saison, die – season

Salon, der – salon

Serviette, die – serviette

Sofa, das – sofa

Tante, die – aunty

Toilette, die – toilet

Zigarette, die – cigarette

And there are many more! Which ones did you know about before? Do any come as a surprise? Do you know any more?

Bis bald (see you soon)!

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Yaacov chen:

    Most of them i do recognize.but i assume that they the big once steaming from latin are identical in french and germen.conformity would be in french conformite and in german french autopia in german autopia there are so many.thank you

  2. Hector:

    I read your blog with much jiy since a long time, now i’m wondering about the word “chef”, did you know that also exist in swedish meaning boss of the kitchen?.

    Ok, glad ti salute you, grüßes aus Mexiko.

    • Constanze:

      @Hector Hi Hector! No I did not know that! That’s very interesting!