A child care center in Flayosc. Seems like yesterday that my son went to the crèche... read on in today's column (a re-blog from 2 years ago...).

une apocope (ah-poh-cowp)

    : the dropping of one or more syllables (or letters) at the end of a word

Ado, MacDo, frigo, véto, resto... the French seem to love abbreviation. This is not to say that others of us are not guilty of truncating terms: in English, for example, we say fridge... Can you help list more wee words or apocopic terms in French or in English? Click here to begin truncating...

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

                 :: Does "ado" mean adieu to childhood? ::

(Sometime in 2008...) There is something in the air around here and it smells like Adieu, like goodbye to a time and a place; fleeting and fading... like freckles on a child's face.

It has me dragging my legs to bed while the sun is still shining, or putting too much symbolism into the shape of the odd cloud that floats by my bedroom window. The angst, though passagère,* is palpable, present as a foreign fragrance in the air.

"Do you smell something rotting here?" I ask the boys while rooting around for the culprit, who I suspect is hiding in these kitchen drawers. I wonder about the strange scent: is it a rat's adieu that I am sensing? And yet...the mouse traps are empty....

Max and his friend, Jack, shake their heads, a bit disappointed to have missed a rotting-rodent sighting.

"No, there's nothing there, Mom." Max confirms. "No mice," Jack seconds.
"Are you sure?" I question, giving the kitchen drawers a good tug while searching for the source of the odor.

The boys insist that they can't smell a thing, and I notice how they slip out of the kitchen lest they catch the foul fever that has seized me.

Surely the smell of something "turning" pervades the air? Oh well. I shut the drawers with a heavy sigh and return to the heap of children's clothing that needs sorting. As the giveaway pile grows, that palpable, perfumed something returns....

I pull one of the little t-shirts close and breathe in the scent of Nine-Years-Old. How long has he had this t-shirt? Four years? It was oversized to begin with and now it is easily too small for my son. Why haven't I given it away yet?


I set the shirt aside and curl up into a chair. Staring out the window, I notice the clouds pass even faster than the years have. I get up, turn my back on the clouds, and search the drawers again; this time for sweets. I am going to make a cake and quit staring at Time.

Later that night, my ears perk up when my son calls for me. "Give me a kiss goodnight, Mom?"
"You bet!" I say, wondering whether this might be the next-to-last time he asks.

"You know," I remind my son, pushing a lock of hair out of his face. "You are still a kid."
"Yes, mom... I am still twelve."

Suddenly, the air seems a little lighter, sweeter....
"And you will still be a kid when you turn thirteen...." I remind him.
Max offers a doubtful look.
"No, Mom," Max argues. "I'll be a teenager."

That sweetness lingers for a moment before the scent molecules rearrange themselves once again, putting a bit of spice into their chemical makeup. I now understand what I have been sensing all along, and while I may have mixed feelings about it, one thing's sure: It smells like teen spirit.*

                                *     *     *

:: Le Coin Commentaires ::
Whether you join the discussion on apocopes--or comment on today's story--your words are enjoyed and appreciated. Merci beaucoup for leaving a comment. Let us know your age (optional!) and/or what city you are writing in from.


passagère = brief, passing; Smells Like Teen Spirit = song by the former rock group Nirvana

Book Feature:  Postcards From France

As a junior in high school, Megan McNeill Libby left behind the familiar comforts of suburban New England to live abroad as an exchange student. Now, in this charming collection of thoughts and vignettes, she takes readers of every age on a delightful, memorable tour through her year in France. A few used copies remain, here.

In French music: Cuisine Non-Stop: Introduction to the French Nouvelle Generation

"Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love & Language from the South of France

Smokey says: it's hard to pose when looking sunward.

By the way, the shutters need painting... or is that a lizard that you are noticing, dear Smokey?


A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Bill in St. Paul

What a treat - an extra FWAD! Yes, they do grow up fast. As I said yesterday about the picture of Jackie, she's no longer a little girl, but a beautiful, young lady (taking after her mother).

Smokey and Blaise are looking healthy and happy, but that free-roaming lizard obviously bothers Smokey.


Ordi, for ordinateur: computer

Suzanne White

A plus!

Herm Meyer

Voici quelques apocopes anglais ...... Auto, Gym, Gas and Temp which was 98 degrees F. here in Phoenix yesterday. We may get our first 100 degree day today.

À bientôt


Ophelia in Nashville

Is "resto" one as in resto du coeur? or sympa? An older lady (older even than I) corrected me once when I said "sympa." I don't think she considered it very proper.

Wonderful story of your beautiful, growing son. And I definitely remember the change in the air -- usually in the car...

Bonne journée!


Hello from Texas!

dodo...for dormir

Have a great day,


Le film que j'ai vue au Cine (cinema) etait Extra (extraordinaire)

Mike Hardcastle

Here's one which totally confused me the first time I heard it:
which is actually short for POLYETHYLENE bag.
Or - sachet en plastique.

At the moment I'm preparing to complete my tax return so that I can take off in my camping car, by my self for the first time ever this year. I intend to stay on several 'France Passion' sites. Have you ever thought about joining Kristin? You may sell a little wine and meet some interesting people.

I'm trying to sort out belongings (probably as an aid to sorting out my emotions) following the death of my wife, and among the photographs are copies of all my son's school pictures. He' was 40 last year. It happens before you know it.

Super anecdote and pictures as usual

Mike Hardcastle.

eileen wiley

'bon ap' for 'bon appétit'- not as sweet, but still better than English version...?? there isn't one , is there?

Herm Meyer

Question about the sign; Is the name of the crèche "La dent de lait" or the "Baby Tooth" in English?


Keely in Mountain View

Dodo reminded me of a couple of baby words - bibi for biberon and susu for sucette (pacifier).

John Backman

What a poignant essay, Kristin. It made for a perfect first-read-of-the-day over here in Albany, New York.


Students love to downsize: calc, chem, psych,and of course, the current trend in texting has truncated even futher: omg, bff, lol.

I love kid-speak! A few years ago I heard a kid say, "You all up in my Kool-aid, and you don't even know what flavor I'm drinking," which was his way of saying, "Mind your own business."

Written on a beauty-full sunny day in Manhattan Beach, CA!!!

Leslie in Massachusetts

apéro for apéritif
vélo for vélocipède
moto for motocyclette

Jules Greer

Thanks Kristi for your wonderful story of my Darling Max. Now I can really see how much he has grown - I can't believe he will be 15 this month. Your writing just flowed, smooth as silk. You have once again set the tone of the day -

I use the term 'dodo for dormir' when I want Breezy to lie down.



The one which always confused me was HAZMAT. I kept thinking that you couldn't have sun shades on your windows when you went through different areas, especially tunnels. Well lo and behold it means - hazardous materials.

Kathy Groves

Years ago when my own children (who are now in their twenties) were still small we attended a family reunion where we were intoduced to my father's aunt. When the hellos were done and we were searching for what to say next this lady, who was likely in her eighties at the time, pointed across the way and said wistfully "Do you see that wrinkled old man over there? That's my son!". There was such a perplexed tone in her voice that it made a deep impression on me that day. As my own children have grown into teens and now young adults I see my own future in her words.

I guess my point in this long tale is to suggest that as parents we should do our best to cherish those busy teen-age years too. One day (if we're lucky) we will be gazing at wrinkled old men and women and wondering how that happened.

Thank you Kristin for opening your heart to us and thus leading us to open our own.

It is cloudy and mild in Lawrence, Kansas.

Noreen Dillane

Oh Gosh .That's exactly how I feel about my 10 year old son right now. He can't wait to grow up and I will be bereft when he does ! Love the photo of your son. Fabulous scenery through the window. Can't wait to get to France myself holidays in 4 weeks time.

Co.Cork, Ireland.


A sweet and poignant story... It captures one of the aspects of being a mother!

My 2 children (girl and boy) are now grown, but I well remember similar feelings when they were going through different stages.

Mary F. Norman

limo for limousine

lino for linoleum

bat d'Af for Battalion d'Afrique

boul' for boulevard

Tom S.

Terrific story, nicely told.

While living in Paris in the late '80s, I had to stop a conversation cold and ask what "dicto" meant. After a momentary nanosecond of disbelief my co-worker said "dicitionary" naturellement! (We were in our twenties---sigh---so maybe she thought I was reproaching her slang. Pas de tout! Even if my terrified French did tend toward the stiffly correct.)

Back in New York, later, for a few years, before moving from there, I learned the urban "Mickey D's" was MacDo(nald's); first a distinctly African-American expression, later adopted by others. Even heard eventually in their commercials.
(If someone already mentioned these, sorry----I did try to read them all...)

OK, back to real world: studying for my change-of-life grad studies finals ..... TOM

Tom S.

P S WIll someone translate 'veto' (vetement?), 'vego,' (uh, vegetarian, legumarian?)

and *ALL* the others listed, too.....


I have heard it isn't correct to say, "bonne appetite" before a meal. Can that be true?

Marianne Rankin

A hundred years ago, a "bus" was an "omnibus," and "phone" for telephone probably dates from the 1940s or even 1950s. These days, words are shortened right and left, to the point where they aren't words, but initials (PDA, for example). Some "words" are really acronyms. I don't know what "laser" stands for, but I remember a magazine article years ago saying what it was; the "L" stands for "light."

In French, I can think of "pif," short for "pifometre," one of my favorite words, meaning sort of a "nose-meter," but really meaning "by feel, instinct" - one does something "au pif" without a lot of training, planning, etc.

My son, almost 19, recently cleared out his room, removing boxes of toys, clothes, books, etc. I was practically in tears. "You don't want to keep ANY of this?" I asked. He agreed to go through some of the items later and take back a few which have sentimental value. Meanwhile, the stages of his life are sitting in the living room.

I tell myself that although it's hard to see them grow up in away, they are alive, healthy, happy, and maturing, for which we can be grateful.

Traci Nelson

My son Alex just turned 14 and I am feeling much of what you expressed! He looks more like a man than my little boy, and is now the tallest in the family! While he will still allow an occasional kiss goodnight, he is more likely to high-five me at a random time. I know it's his way of connecting with me still. Watching them grow up is bittersweet!

Suzanne Austin

Speaking of McDonald' French, McDo.
Speaking of French, frigo
Other English words:
demo (demonstration)
info (information)
expo (exposition)
exam (examination)

Sunny here too in Ventura County, California!

Suzanne Austin

Okay, I see a couple of those are already on the list!

Kathleen Heckathorn

How about Congrats (for congratulations)?
I am new to your blog and enjoy it very much. Congrats from Orange County, California.


Comme d'hab.

Comme d'habitude




Vera Marie Badertscher

I'm still waiting for the translation of the sign on the child care center. Thought it would be in the list of words for the day. Other than that small whine, lovely story about your son. And thanks for the blog.


Back in my days in Belgium, bibi was short for 'me' (moi, ma pomme, bibi). I think it's still in use.
While looking it up on WikiFr I was also reminded that it used to be a term for "chapeau de dame" (terme tombé en désuétude).

Vera Marie;
la dent de lait: the tooth of milk (milk tooth or baby tooth)
Halte-garderie: child minding centre [From Structure qui accueille momentanément et occasionnellement des enfant s en bas âge. garderie crèche garderie]

Thank you for 'apocope'... Had never heard it before. I love how FWAD sends me on word/language travels..:)

From Brisbane where it is 24.7°C and fine. A dream autumn day.


Tom S.: I think that "véto" is a veterinarian ("vétérinaire").

Jeanne Freeland

"Acopope," what a great word, thanks! Here's an old one: "sympa" for "sympathique."

I hope I live long enough to see my son all wrinkly. I remember being shocked to see those first gray hairs at his temples....ah, la vie s'enfuie a tire d'aile, n'est-ce pas?

Lovely cool night here in Sedona AZ.

Jeanne Freeland

Oh, this is embarrassing, but the pedant in me (which takes up a lot of the available space) just has to correct "s'enfuie" to "s'enfuit."

Sedona again

Jan Rogers

We run a chambres et table d'hôtes and are often asked what our 'dispos' are - disponiblités!

Leslie in Massachusetts

My knowledge of what is and isn't done by French people is based on my daughter's wonderful belle-famille (in-laws) who are intelligent, accomplished, and kind with wonderful sense of humor, and very down-to-earth. They say bon appetit and sympa all the time. (Both of these have been questioned by FWAD readers, which is why I'm bringing them up.) It's true that in France, and everywhere I guess, there are some people who are very formal and proper. If you suspect that you are dealing with people like that, then don't use apocopes, which can be informal, and don't say bon appetit. If you care what they think, that is.


I was moved to the point of tears by your post about your son's childhood, but it caught my attention for another reason, as well. At the very end of my marriage I began to smell something, and I couldn't figure out what it was. It all made sense when I realized that my marriage was dead, but I have never heard anyone describe a passage by scent. It's nice to know I'm not the only one! Of course the end of a marriage is not as nice as watching your son grow, and change, but I think it shows that all difficulties have a positive side and that even good things have some sorrow embedded in them.


Thank you Anna, and everyone, for your stories and for these amusing apocopes! I was just signing off, via email, to Cynthia, and thought of another truncated term: "bon we" (bon weekend)! I see this one from time to time, but hesitate to sign off this way, worried that the person on the other end of the email might think I'm being frisky or assuming :-)

Marianne Rankin

"Bon we" and even "le weekend" show how language changes over time. When I was first learning French over 40 years ago (!), we learned that the weekend was "la fin de semaine." By now, "le weekend" seems to be pretty standard, at least in spoken French.

This brings me to two conversations I had while in France a decade later. One was with an older woman who had been told I was American. After we chatted for a few minutes, she said, "Vous parlez tres correctement francais." I then spoke with a younger woman, perhaps a few years older than I was. After a few minutes she told me, "Vous parlez TROP correctment francais." In other words, not enough slang or informality to pass for a native.


I don't know any French abbreviations beyond the ones already noted, but I lived in Australia for years and they abbreviate everything they can get their mouths around:
a cozzie (short for swimming costume/bathing suit), a sammi (short for sandwich), Chrissy (Christmas),Chrissy prezzie (you guess), arvo (afternoon), brekky (breakfast), bizzo (business), journo (journalist, mozzie (mosquito), lippy (lipstick), and, of course, barbie. There are so many more than this. It was like speaking the way a child would, and weird at first. My sister still laughs at me when I tell her I put something in my pocky.


How about meteo for the weather forecast? (sorry, no accents!)

my son is also 12 and sometimes thay seem they are 9 and then sometimes 21 but they are still little boys and i adore mine...great story reminds me of my own.suzanne


We were so pleased to find that there is a word for this very French habit. We mentioned in a recent blog, with a link to your wonderful site. The topic is French food: is it getting better or worse? We wanted to talk about the way French ados flock to McDo!

Here's the blog:

All the best,

Philippa and Barbara

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks again for the apocopes. Keep them coming! Heres one I heard alot over the weekend (in Ramatuelle): St. Trop. What a fitting apocope for St. Tropez: the land of plenty!

Betty Hansen

apero -- an aperitif or cocktail.

We were in St. Trop too but the weekend after you were there. I just love it there!!
My husband, my friends and I enjoyed meeting you. And we enjoyed the bottle of rose on one of our many picnics during the last 2 weeks.
Our stay in Suze-la-Rousse was great and the owners would like to meet Jean-Marc and get to know his wines. I'll forward the name and address to you separately!!


Those dogs are SO beautiful!!

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