What Does "Une Boîte" Mean in French?

The French for Both a Box and a Nightclub

In French, the noun une boîte means "a box." It is a very useful word to add to your French vocabulary list, but it also has another informal meaning. Let's briefly explore how you can use une boîte as well as a few related French words.

The Traditional Definition of Une Boîte

Traditionally, une boîte is a noun used to refer to "a box" or even "a can." Essentially, it's a good word to use when describing a container that holds something. Additionally, the noun un boîtier means"a case."

Boîte is pronounced bwat, which can be a little tricky for English speakers. It's a good idea to practice making the bw sound. It is not one that we use in English, but it is used often in French for most words that include boi. For instance, the same sound is used for the verb boire, which means "to drink."

As you might suspect, une boîte can be found in many expressions that you will find very helpful as you become more fluent in French. 

  • dans la boîte - in the box
  • prendre quelque chose dans une boîte - to take something from a box
  • chercher dans la boîte - to look in the box
  • J'ai acheté du thon en boîte. - I bought some canned tuna.

The Informal Definition of Une Boîte

Just as in English, modern and informal French likes to borrow words to define something else. Une boîte is one of those words and it's come to mean "a nightclub." One can see the association between a box and the boxy, open rooms that nightclubs often fill, so it is rather logical.

  • Sortons en boîte ce soir ! - Let's go to a club tonight!
  • Cette boîte est super ! - This club is great!

There are a number of other words that also mean "a nightclub." For instance, you might hear someone say la boîte de nuit or le nuit-clubLa discothèque (the disco) and le cabaret may also be used for a hotspot people go to for a night out on the town.

Words Related to Une Boîte

As you study more French, you will notice a number of other words that begin with boîte. Among those are a few that refer to a limp or some physical impairment of the limbs, particularly the legs when walking. Remember that all of these use that bwat pronunciation.

  • boiter - to limp
  • le boitement - limping
  • boiteux - lame, shaky (adjective)
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Team, ThoughtCo. "What Does "Une Boîte" Mean in French?" ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, thoughtco.com/une-boite-vocabulary-1371651. Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). What Does "Une Boîte" Mean in French? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/une-boite-vocabulary-1371651 Team, ThoughtCo. "What Does "Une Boîte" Mean in French?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/une-boite-vocabulary-1371651 (accessed June 6, 2023).