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France publishes list of French words to use for shopping anglicisms

Say l’essayer-acheter in French not ‘try before you buy’

Fashionable handbags should be referred to as ‘un sac iconique’ and not an ‘it bag’ Pic: Creative Lab / Shutterstock

No more ‘it bag’ or ‘try before you buy’ – the correct French terms should be ‘sac iconique’ and ‘l’essayer-acheter’.

These are two examples of anglicisms in the world of fashion and shopping that French officials have asked should be replaced by their approved French equivalents.

A list of these has been published in Le Journal Officiel after approval by a body which oversees this process, the Commission d’enrichissement de la langue française.

Read also: Learning French: Five ways to push through the pain barrier

New French recommendations for ‘unnecessary’ anglicisms are made on a regular basis and those previously put forward can be found in the database at the France Terme website. 

Use of the terms is in theory obligatory by organisations in the state sector – though we have not heard of anyone being fined for failure to use them – and is recommended generally to “anyone who is keen to be understood by as many people as possible”, according to France Terme.

The latest batch of words includes:

  • Try before you buy – l’essayer-acheter

  • It bag – un sac iconique

  • It girl/boy – une icône de mode

  • Must-have – un incontournable

  • Fashionista or fashion victim – un/e passioné/e de mode

  • Tote bag – un fourre-tout, un sac en toile or un sac publicitaire

  • Lifestyle – le style de vie

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