Faux Amis Beginning With F

French English False Cognates

One of the great things about learning French or English is that many words have the same roots in the Romance languages and English. However, there are also a great many faux amis, or false cognates, which look similar but have different meanings. This is one of the biggest pitfalls for students of French. There are also "semi-false cognates": words that can only sometimes be translated by the similar word in the other language.



This alphabetical list (newest additions) includes hundreds of French-English false cognates, with explanations of what each word means and how it can be correctly translated into the other language. To avoid confusion due to the fact that some of the words are identical in the two languages, the French word is followed by (F) and the English word is followed by (E).


Fabrique (F) vs Fabric (E)

     Fabrique (F) is a factory. De bonne fabrique means good workmanship.
     Fabric (E) is equivalent to tissu or étoffe. When speaking figuratively, e.g., the fabric of society, the French word is structure.


Facilité (F) vs Facility (E)

     Facilité (F) means ease, easiness, ability, or aptitude.
     Facility (E) is a semi-false cognate. It usually refers to a structure that serves a particular function, although it can mean easiness, aptitude, etc.


Façon (F) vs Fashion (E)

     Façon (F) means way, as in voilà la façon dont il procède - this is the way he does it.

It can be translated by fashion when it is synonymous with way or manner, as in à ma façon - in my fashion / my way.
     Fashion (E) is a style or custom, usually in clothing: mode or vogue. For all of you apple pie eaters out there, now you know that à la mode really means in fashion.


Facteur (F) vs Factor (E)

     Facteur (F) is a semi-false cognate.

In addition to factor, it can mean postman, mailman, or maker - un facteur de pianos - piano maker.
     Factor (E) = un facteur, un élément, un indice.


Fastidieux (F) vs Fastidious (E)

     Fastidieux (F) means tedious, tiresome, or boring
     Fastidious (E) means attentive to detail or exacting: minutieux, méticuleux, tatillon.


Fendre (F) vs Fend (E)

     Fendre (F) means to split or to chop.
     Fend (E) is se débrouiller, to fend off means parer or détourner.


Figure (F) vs Figure (E)

     Figure (F) is a semi-false cognate. It is the French word for face, but can also refer to an illustrated or mathematical figure.
     Figure (E) refers to numbers chiffres as well as to the form of a person's body: forme, silhouette.


File/Filer (F) vs File (E)

     File (F) is a line or queue. Filer (F) means to spin (e.g., cotton or thread) or to prolong.
     File (E) can refer to une lime (as well as the verb limer), un dossier, or un classeur (and the verb classer).


Film (F) vs Film (E)

     Film (F) refers to a movie.
     Film (E) can mean un film as well as la pellicule.


Finalement (F) vs Finally (E)

     Finalement (F) means eventually or in the end.
     Finally (E) is enfin or en dernier lieu.


Flemme (F) vs Phlegm (E)

     Flemme (F) is an informal word for laziness.

It's commonly used in the expressions "avoir la flemme" (J'ai la flemme d'y aller - I can't be bothered to go) and "tirer sa flemme" - to loaf about.
     Phlegm (E) = la mucosité.


Flirter (F) vs Flirt (E)

     Flirter (F) may mean to flirt or to go out with/date someone.
     Flirt (E) is flirter or, informally, draguer.


Fluide (F) vs Fluid (E)

     Fluide (F) can be a noun: fluid, or an adjective: fluid, flowing, flexible. Il a du fluide - He has mysterious powers.
     Fluid (E) means fluide or liquide.


Fond (F) vs Fond (E)

     Fond (F) is a noun: bottom or back.
     Fond (E) is an adjective: to be fond of - aimer beaucoup, avoir de l'affection pour.


Football (F) vs Football (E)

     Football (F) or le foot, refers to soccer (in American English).
     Football (E) = le football américain.


Forcément (F) vs Forcefully (E)

     Forcément (F) means inevitably or necessarily.


     Forcefully (E) can be translated by avec force or avec vigueur.


Forfait (F) vs Forfeit (E)

     Forfait (F) is a fixed, set, or all-inclusive price; a package deal; or, in sports, a withdrawal.
     Forfeit (E) as a noun indicates un prix, une peine, or un dédit.


Formation (F) vs Formation (E)

     Formation (F) refers to training as well as formation/forming.
     Formation (E) means formation or création.


Format (F) vs Format (E)

     Format (F) means size.
     Format (E) as a noun refers to présentation; as a verb it means formater or mettre en forme.


Formel (F) vs Formal (E)

     Formel (F) usually means categoric, strict, or definite, but may be translated by formal in linguistics, art, and philosophy.
     Formal (E) = officiel or cérémonieux.


Formidable (F) vs Formidable (E)

     Formidable (F) is an interesting word, because it means great or terrific; almost the opposite of the English. Ce film est formidable ! - This is a great movie!
     Formidable (E) means dreadful or fearsome: The opposition is formidable - L'opposition est redoutable/effrayante.


Fort (F) vs Fort (E)

     Fort (F) is an adjective: strong or loud as well as a noun - fort.
     Fort (E) refers to un fort or fortin.


Four (F) vs Four (E)

     Four (F) is an oven, kiln, or furnace.
     Four (E) = quatre.


Fourniture (F) vs Furniture (E)

     Fourniture (F) means supplying or provision. It's from the verb fournir: to supply or provide.
     Furniture (E) refers to meubles or moblier.


Foyer (F) vs Foyer (E)

     Foyer (F) can mean home, family, or fireplace as well as a foyer.


     Foyer (E) is un foyer, un hall, or un vestibule.


fraîche (F) vs fresh (E)

     fraîche (F) is the feminine form of the adjective frais, which means both fresh and cool. So this tends to be problem for native French speakers, who often translate boissons fraîches as "fresh drinks," when what they really mean is cool drinks.
     fresh (E) = frais, récent, nouveau.


Friction (F) vs Friction (E)

     Friction (F) can refer to a massage in addition to friction.
     Friction (E) = la friction.


Fronde (F) vs Frond (E)

     Fronde (F) is a sling, slingshot, or catapult; a revolt; or a frond.
     Frond (E) = une fronde or une feuille.


Front (F) vs Front (E)

     Front (F) means front as well as forehead.
     Front (E) = le front or avant.


Futile (F) vs Futile (E)

     Futile (F) can mean futile but is more likely to be frivolous or trivial.
     Futile (E) is nearly always translated by vain.

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Lawless, Laura K. "Faux Amis Beginning With F." ThoughtCo, Mar. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/faux-amis-f-1371230. Lawless, Laura K. (2017, March 6). Faux Amis Beginning With F. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/faux-amis-f-1371230 Lawless, Laura K. "Faux Amis Beginning With F." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/faux-amis-f-1371230 (accessed January 24, 2018).