French Terms of Endearment, just below.
* * *
On this 14th day of February, or what the French call "le quatorze février" (a.k.a. "Le jour de la Saint-Valentin"* and "la fête des amoureux"*) we begin with a string of lip-swaying nouns. Go ahead and pronounce the first line in the next paragraph and just feel your lips move to and fro--the exercise is a perfect warm up for...a kiss.
A smack, a smooch, a peck, a pash, and a bee-zoo* were once upon a time (and only in the land of lavender) known simply, humbly, endearingly as a kind of "poutoun" (poo-toon). And in the Provence of yesteryear, Marilyn's "a kiss on the hand" might be, and rhymingly so, "un poutoun sur la main".
Given that this letter comes to you just a few beats away from the heart of Provence, not far from where La Festo di Poutoun, or "Kiss Festival," is soon to be underway, I hope you'll give today's word--un poutoun / a kiss--more than lip-service by sharing this edition with friend (or "other"...). Thank you for reading and I'll now sign off with a welcome change to "cordialement,"* "amicalement,"* "best regards," and even "cheers" :
* * *
Le coeur découvre, la tête invente.
The heart discovers, the head invents.--Arthur Cravan
Les Mots Doux ~ Terms of Endearment
It may seem strange that the French, widely regarded as one of the most sophisticated and beautiful people on the globe, use some of the most strange (and not so beautiful) terms to refer to their belle/beau (loved one). Take, for example, "ma puce" which means "my flea" (very popular here); also "mon chou" or "my cabbage" (beau, n'est-ce pas?). Here are a few more ways to call your darling "sweetheart" in French:
mon amour (mohn a-moor) = my love
mon bébé (mohn bay-bay) = baby
ma belle (mah bel) = my beautiful (one)
ma biche (mah beesh) = my doe
ma caille (mah kahy) = my quail
mon canard (mohn ka-nar)= my duck
ma chérie/mon chéri (mah/mohn shay-ree) = my dear
mon chou* (mohn shoo) = my cream puff (sweetie-pie, cupcake)
mon coeur (mohn ker) = my sweetheart
mon lapin (mohn la-pahn) = my rabbit
ma moitié (mah mwa-tyay) = my half
mon poulet (mohn poo-lay) = my chicken
mon trésor (mohn tray-zor) = my treasure
mon poussin (mohn poo-sahn) = my chick
ma puce (mah poose) = my (little flea)
mon sucre d'orge (mohn sookr-dorzh) = my barley sugar
*from mon chou à la crème
More Love Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Amoureux
les billets doux = valentines
fréquenter = to see / go out with someone
amouracher & s'amouracher de = to become infatuated with
tomber amoureux = to fall in love
References: Le jour de la Saint-Valentin = Valentine's Day; la fête des amoureux = the lovers' celebration; bee-zoo = pronunciation for "bisou" = kiss; cordialement = cordially; amicalement = best wishes, yours
Selected "heart" expressions:
un coup de coeur = a spontaneous attraction
vider son coeur = to reveal one's feelings
Aimer de tout son coeur = to love with all one's heart
Laisser parler son coeur = to let one's heart speak
Donner son coeur à quelqu'un = to give one's heart to someone
un bourreau des coeurs = a ladykiller
Faire le joli coeur = to seduce
joli(e) comme un coeur = ravishing
Treasury of French Love: Poems, Quotations & Proverbs : In French and English
Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!