Green’s Dictionary of Slang

French adj.

1. [late 16C–mid-18C] in combs. meaning syphilis (see also below).

2. [late 16C+] a racial stereotype used in various contexts; the Anglo-Saxon belief in ‘gay Paree’ and its supposedly sex-obsessed denizens has long equated ‘French’ with sexy or, pej., pornographic and ‘dirty’.

3. [mid-19C–1900s] (US) unfashionable, vulgar, distasteful.

4. [20C+] used in comb. meaning fellatio/fellate (see also below); thus, by ext., denoting homosexuality.

5. [20C+] esp. as used by a prostitute, willing to give oral sex.

Pertaining to oral sex (usu. male-to-male)

In compounds

French active (n.)

[1950s+] (gay) the passive (sucked) partner in fellatio.

French artist (n.)

[1970s+] (US gay) a fellator.

French bath (n.)

[1930s] (US) fellatio.

French culture (n.)

[1960s+] fellatio, esp. in homosexual contact advertisements.

French date (n.)

1. [1930s] (US Und.) a prostitute’s client who enjoys fellatio.

2. [1960s] a paid-for act of fellatio.

French dressing (n.)

[1950s+] (US gay) semen, in the context of fellatio.

French embassy (n.)

[1960s] (US gay) any location, esp. a gym or YMCA, where homosexual activity is extensive and unchecked.

French-fried ice-cream (n.)

[1950s+] (gay) semen.

French-fried ice water (n.)

[1960s] (US gay) lumpy semen.

French girl (n.)

[1930s] (US Und.) a prostitute who offers fellatio.

French (head) job (n.) [job n.2 (2)]

[1960s+] (US gay) fellatio.

French lady (n.)

[1980s] (US) a fellator.

French language expert (n.)

[1950s+] (gay) a fellator.

French language training (n.)

[1970s+] (gay) the teaching of fellatio to another person.

French lessons (n.)

[mid-19C] fellatio; by ext. other forms of commercial sex.

French love (n.)

[20C+] fellatio.

French passive (n.)

[1950s+] (gay) the fellator.

French photographer (n.)

[1950s+] (gay) a homosexual photographer.

French polishing (n.)

[1980s] fellatio; thus French polisher, a fellatrix.

French revolution (n.)

[1950s–60s] (gay) the movement for homosexual rights.

French style (adv.)

[1970s] of sex, with the mouth, i.e. fellatio.

French tricks (n.) [Williams cites 17C use of French tricks as a general euph. for degeneracy/debauchery]

[1960s+] oral sex, of a man or a woman.

French way (n.)

[1960s+] fellatio.

In phrases

French by injection (n.)

1. [1950s–60s] (US gay) said of anyone considered particularly well-versed in fellatio.

2. [1960s] (US) any American prostitute who opts for foreign customers.

tell a French joke (v.)

[1960s+] (gay) to stimulate the anus orally.

Pertaining to sex in general

In compounds

French cap (n.) [var. on SE Dutch cap]

[1920s] (US) a condom.

French deck (n.)

[1960s+] (US) a pack of playing cards decorated with erotic pictures.

French dip (n.)

[1950s+] (gay) vaginal juices.

French envelope (n.)

[1990s+] (S.Afr.) a condom.

French fuck (n.) [fuck n. (1)]

[1930s+] (US) the rubbing of a man’s penis between a woman’s breasts.

French handshake (n.)

[1970s] (US teen) a form of handshake signifying a sexual interest or invitation.

French kiss

see separate entries.

French letter (n.)

see separate entry.

French postcard (n.)

1. [1910s+] (orig. US, also French picture) an erotic picture postcard.

2. [1950s+] (gay) an exciting prospective sexual partner.

French prints (n.)

1. [mid-19C+] pornographic pictures and engravings.

2. [1950s+] (gay) unusual heterosexual pornography.

French safe (n.) [safe n. (1)]

[late 19C+] (Can./US) a condom.

French stuff (n.) [1970s] (gay)

1. pornography.

2. any unusual sexual activity.

French tickler (n.) (also tickler)

[1910s+] a contraceptive sheath with extra protrusions for added stimulation.

Pertaining to venereal disease

In derivatives

Frenched (adj.)

[mid-17C] venereally diseased.

In compounds

French chillblains (n.)

[17C] venereal disease.

French crown (n.) (also French curse, ...goods, ...gout) [aka Corona Veneris; joc. uses of SE crown, the ring of spots around the forehead/goods/gout]

[late 17C–19C] venereal disease.

French disease (n.) (also disease/malady of France)

[late 16C–18C] venereal disease, esp. syphilis.

French marbles (n.)

[late 16C] venereal disease, esp. syphilis.

French measles (n.) (also French cannibal, ...morbus)

[early 17C–18C] venereal disease, esp. syphilis.

French pig (n.)

[late 19C–1900s] syphilis, esp. the syphilitic pustule or bubo.

French pox (n.)

[early 16C–18C] venereal disease, esp. syphilis.

French razor (n.)

[early 17C] syphilis.

In phrases

take French lessons (v.)

[20C+] to contract venereal disease.

SE in slang uses

Pertaining to brandy

In compounds

French article (n.)

[18C] brandy.

French cream (n.) [SE; France as the home of brandy; ‘so called by the old tabbies and dowagers when they drink their tea’ (Grose, 1796)]

[18C] brandy.

French elixir (n.)

[19C] brandy.

French lace (n.)

[early 19C] brandy.

General uses

French bathe

see separate entries.

French blue (n.) [manufacturers Smith, Kline and French + blue n.1 (4a)] [1960s+]

1. (UK drugs) a mix of barbiturate and amphetamine.

2. (US drugs) amphetamine.

French fits (n.) [? a link to insanity attendant on syphilis, i.e. the French disease ; or ? pertaining to brandy, see combs. above]

[1940s–50s] (US) delirium tremens.

French inhale (v.) [the supposed sophistication of the French]

1. [1950s+] (US) to blow cigarette smoke out through the mouth and then inhale the resulting cloud through one’s nose.

2. [1970s] (US black/drugs) to deeply inhale cannabis smoke.

French leave (n.)

see separate entry.

French peasoup (n.)

[19C+] (US/Can.) a French immigrant.

French screwdriver (n.) [supposed French inability to perform simple manual tasks]

[20C+] a hammer.

French vanilla (n.) [play on popular variety of ice cream] [1990s+] (US black teen)

1. a sexy white woman.

2. a light-coloured black woman.

French walk (n.) [a pun on Frog n. (2) + SE walk; unwelcome or obstreperous drinkers would be grasped by a couple of bouncers, held up with all four limbs spread out (like a frog) and tossed into the street]

[late 19C] (US) the posture assumed by those being thrown bodily out of a saloon.

Frenchwoman (n.) [fig. use of French to mean strange, mysterious]

[1920s+] (W.I.) a fortune-teller.

In phrases

take a French (v.)

[late 19C] (US) to wager, to take a bet.