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French - the language of love

Valentine’s day is here and it is time to express your love... here are some French expressions that should help today.

If you are crazy in love, you might feel butterflies in your belly (avoir des papillons dans le ventre) each time you see your loved one and perhaps you are living only with love and fresh water (vivre d’amour et d’eau fraiche). Vivre d’amour et d’eau fraiche usually concerns new couples – it is said that we lose appetite at the beginning of a relationship and we do not need anything more than water and love to survive.

If you tend to fall in love fast and often you certainly have a coeur d’artichaut (an artichoke’s heart) – it refers to the way we eat artichokes, we take one leaf and then another leaf as someone with a coeur d’artichaut loves a person and then another person.

On the contrary, if you have a coeur de pierre (a heart of stone) you do not love anyone and have difficulties in loving people.

On the other hand you can have a coup de foudre, literally meaning you have been hit by a lightning strike which made you fall in love with someone you just met. It is love at first sight.

If you have a coup de foudre, your may have le coeur qui bat la chamade (the heart beating wildly). This expression comes from an old Italian word ‘ciamada’ meaning calling. It was used for a military procedure where they made a drumroll to break the battle and take dead bodies from the ground.

If you are not really into long-term relationships, you like seducing and you have a lot of conquests you are a bourreau des coeurs ('heart executioner'). Sometimes French people also use Don Juan, as a reference to Molière's famous play, where Don Juan charmed all the women.

Faire du pied is when you try to seduce and get someone’s attention. The expression comes from the 20th century, when men used to touch the foot of women with their own foot under the table during diner to show their interest. The meaning has since expanded to anyone trying to flirt heavily.

If someone speaks about a cinq à sept, this refers to a rendez-vous with a lover. It used to refer to the free time you have when you finish work at 17.00 until dinner at 19.00 but it now has a more negative connotation about adultery.

There are lots of expressions to say someone had sex. You can use faire l’amour (make love), which is the most common one. However, you may sometimes hear the expression s’envoyer en l’air (literally 'sending yourself up into the sky') or faire crac-crac – crac-crac referring to the sound the bed makes when you have sexual relations.

Rouler une pelle ('roll a shovel') is one of the most used expression to say you kissed someone with the tongue. The English equivalent would be French kiss - which sounds classier. 

You can use cute names such as mon chou (literally meaning my cabbage) or mon canard (my duck) to call your partner.

You might have already heard kiffer, which means to love (je te kiffe means I love you in a more informal way). Ghoster is also a new expression used by young people, and coming from English (ghost), to say someone is ignoring your texts, calls, etc.

If you have a crush on someone, you have le béguin. This means you love this person and it is time to declare your love (déclarer sa flamme – flamme refers to the fire inside you when you are in love).

If you hesitate between je t’aime or je t’adore, you should know that adorer and aimer have two different meanings. Aimer means to love, to be in love in an affectionate way while adorer originally refers to a kind of worship. We generally say je t’aime to someone and j’adore for something (for example j’adore le chocolat).

You can also say je t’adore to a close friend but je t’aime is the one to use with the love of your life. However, je t’aime bien is used for friends, as the addition of the word bien takes the romantic sense out of it.

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Related article: Our Valentine’s day story: “I met my wife in Paris”

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