Word Origin & History
O.E. frencisc "of the Franks" (see frank
). Euphemistic meaning "bad language" (pardon my French) is from 1895. Used in many combination-words, often dealing with food or sex. French dressing first recorded 1900; French toast is from 1630s. French letter "condom" (c.1856),
French (v.) "perform oral sex on" (c.1917) and French kiss (1923) all probably stem from the Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication, a sense first recorded 1749 in French novel. To take French leave, "depart without telling the host," is 1771, from a social custom then prevalent. However, in France this is said to be called filer à l'anglaise, lit. "to take English leave."