7 French Food-Related Words That Became English

When the Normans took over England in 1066, they brought their food and their language.  

Mignon Fogarty
5-minute read
Episode #427

6. Restaurant

Kara, let’s get to some cooking words that came to English from French more recently. One that jumped to mind to you was restaurant, right?

Absolutely! The word restaurant comes from the French verb meaning “to restore or revive”—so etymologically, a restaurant is a place where visitors can relax, be well fed, and feel taken care of before going back out into the world.

7. Omelet

Finally, let’s talk about omelets. Omelet is interesting because it came into English in the early 1600s, but it was a mistake. Experts think it formed from a process we’ve talked about before called metathesis or rebracketing. For example, the word apron used to be napron, which an n, but because people misheard a napron as an apron, and the official word eventually became apron, with an a. They think the same thing happened with omelet. There are two French words that sound similar: la lemelle and alemette. People think that rebrackeing of the French word gave us the English word omelet.

Omelet is the typical spelling in American English, but English writers in other countries sometimes spell it omelette.

Kara, do you have a favorite omelet recipe?

I love making omelets with fresh herbs and creamy cheeses, like brie or chevre. Fresh chives, dill, mint, scallions, and basil are all excellent additions. (http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/brie-and-chive-omelet and http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/a-perfect-omelet)

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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