Which new words have made it into the latest French dictionary?

The 2024 edition of the Petit Robert dictionary has introduced 150 new words into the French lexicon

Do you use any of these words when speaking French?
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The newest edition of one of France’s premier dictionaries will hit shelves on Thursday (May 11) and formally introduce 150 new words into the French lexicon.

The Petit Robert’s 2024 update includes a number of anglicisms, as well as words that have entered metropolitan French via Belgian and Quebecois variations.

New additions included are also based on prevalent topics in today’s society - particularly for younger people - including online dating and ecological fears.

The additions "are a mirror held up to society", said Géraldine Moinard, editorial director of the dictionary, explaining they reflect the tendencies of current French speakers.

Read also: Understand French better with these 14 slang phrases

Anglicisms take centre-stage

With English remaining as the world’s ‘lingua franca’, a number of words derived from our own language can be found amongst the additions.

Words and expressions like flex office(a workplace with no defined office space, allowing workers to work both at home and in temporarily rented spaces), spoiler, and crushwill be familiar to most of our readers.

Additions that may make English speakers scratch their heads include instagrammable (something that looks good enough to post on the photo-sharing app Instagram), or ghoster(to ghost - when you start to ignore a potential romantic partner after a date).

Larousse, a dictionary competitor of the Petit Robert, highlight some anglicisms as “discouraged” in their own new version, with suitable French equivalents suggested.

This is due to “a general reaction of weariness with regard to anglicisms,” said their scientific advisor Bernard Cerquiglini, reflecting the desire of bodies like the Academie Française to keep anglicisms out of the language.

It is not only English words entering the dictionary this year, however - French’s status as a global language spoken across continents also helps bring new words from other Francophone cultures to those in metropolitan France.

The Belgian word gayolle (or gayole), which can either mean a small cage for an animal, a goal in football, or a prison has been included, alongside the Quebecois infonuagique(the cloud).

Read also: French language defenders sue Notre-Dame over English translations

Additions are a reflection of our anxieties and nature

Many additions this year were words relating to the ecological landscape - most often in negative terms.

Greenwashing, dette climatique (climate debt), microplastique all point towards anxieties over the future state of the planet.

“We need vocabulary to express these fears,” said Ms Moinard, highlighting other new inclusions relating to recent political events such as mégabassine and zone à faible émission (ZFE, or low-emission zone) as examples of French’s need to adapt to new situations.

A host of words relating to technological advancements were also introduced, many again deriving from English – métavers (metaverse), minage de cryptomonnaie (cryptocurrency mining), cryptoart, le moissonnage de données (data harvesting).

Lastly, words popular with young people in France have been included – even if some older people would not know the meaning of the words.

See if your French neighbours would know the meaning of bader (to feel sad about something), or être en PLS* (to be disappointed/fed up/distraught about something or at the end of your tether).

*PLS = position latérale de sécurité, in this context signifies that you are lying on the floor because of the emotions you are feeling.

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