Green’s Dictionary of Slang

French adj.

1. in combs. meaning syphilis (see also below).

implied in French pox
[UK]Three Lords and Three Ladies of London J3: The French canker consume ye, you were an old Frenchman.
[UK]Chapman & Jonson Eastward Ho! V v: Shun usurers, bawds, and dice, and drabs; / Avoid them as you would French scabs.
[UK]R. Johnson (?) Look on Me, London in Henke Gutter Life and Lang. 106: [A brothel] where (peradventure) for a pottle or two of wine, the embracement of a painted strumpet, and French welcome for a reckoning, the yong novice payeth forty shillings.
[UK]T. Overbury New and Choise Characters n.p.: [An Hypocrite] Amongst Dogs, the mange; amongst Horses, the glaunders; amongst Men and Women, the Northerne itch, and the French Ache be diseases.
[UK]J. Harington Epigrams III No. 33: Since thy third curing of the French infection, / Priapus hath in thee found no erection.
[UK]Middleton Women Beware Women (1887) III i: There’s many a disease kissed in a year by’t, And a French curtsy made to’t.
H. Shirley Martyr’d Souldier IV iii: Whole Lordships are spent upon a fleshly device, yet the buyer in the end had nothing but French Repentance and the curse of Chyrurgery for his money.
[UK]T. Killigrew Parson’s Wedding (1664) III ii: Your French seasoning spoils many a woman.
[UK]M. Cavendish ‘Natures Cook’ R4: Some with the Pox, chops Flesh, and Bones so small, Of which She makes a French Fricasse withall.
[UK]T. Duffet Mock-Tempest III i: I know who has been taken up in the common, and rode so many heats that they got the French fashions.
Penton Guardian’s Instruction 29: The easie Cure of the French Complement.
J. Wright Humours of the Town 47: A painted face above, with the French Nobless raging beneath.
C. Leslie Rehearsal of Observator 6 Jan. 23: No Man of his own self Catches The Itch or Amorous French Aches.
[UK]Select Trials at Old Bailey (1742) III 41: She had got a Running, tho’ as to that, he could not say it was the French Distemper.
Country Carter’s Garland 8: We dread no French harms from France.
Joaks upon Joaks 20: She burned with a candle those parts which modesty allows me not to name [...] The King fell into a great passion, which [Nell’s] wit soon appeased, by telling him that there was a late act of parliament that all French commodities should be burnt.

2. 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’.

[UK]Chapman & Jonson Eastward Ho! I i: Behind my back thou wilt swear faster than a French foot-boy.
[UK]R. Brome Sparagus Garden IV iv: Looke that you congy in the new French Bum-trick.
[UK]R. Brome New Academy III i: It seems, that you profess French qualities.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 40 28 Feb.–7 Mar. 320: They are afterwards to have a Mash given them by a French Farrier, made of Neopolitan Perriwigg Roots.
[UK]Mercurius Democritus 28 May 10: Napping in the French quarters of some of his old venerial Ladys.
‘Peter Aretine’ Strange Newes 3: Wand. Wh—. [I] receive the Spanish Rogue into my French quarters, where he turn’d the Pig so long till one of his best members was lost in the dripping pan, yet the Jack-weights are secure and hang fast still.
[UK]Wycherley Gentleman Dancing-Master I ii: Oh! if dat be all, I am very pockie; pockie enough Jarnie, that is the only French qualification may be had without going to Paris, mon foy.
[UK]Cibber Woman’s Wit III v: She borrow’d a French Novel of him; and being told there was one deadly smutty page in it, she discreetly beg’d him to double it down, that she might be sure to avoid it.
[UK]Cibber She Would and She Would Not IV i: A pert Coxcomb; by his Impudence and Dress, I guess him to be some French Page.
[UK]J. Lacey Sauny the Scot II i: Your French Books treat most of Love.
[UK]‘Roger Pheuquewell’ Description of Roads to Merryland 7: A celebrated French Author, who hath (besides recommending this back Way as the best and easiest).
[US]G.G. Foster N.Y. in Slices 106: Not allow themselves to be seduced by grown men [...] to deal in dirty French Novels, and filthy Compositions of home manufacture.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Dec. 32/1: He worked the sheds with French photos., and lay by at the shanties like a spider waitin’ for flies. His French specials were real pure. ’Twas them, an’ some cronk bizness with a cheque, that set the traps after his scalp.
[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley Says 41: Takin’ a dhraw at an opeem-pipe an’ r-readin’ a Fr-rinch novel.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 16 July 12/8: Packs of cards—it's ‘French’ they call ’em— / Holding them up to the light. / There are picture things exposed there, / As are a ungodly sight.
[UK](con. 1916) F. Manning Her Privates We (1986) 15: There were a couple o’ smutty French photographs, which I tore up.
[US]R. Chandler Little Sister 62: I could organize a double-strip act with French trimmings.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 56: [of an incontinent man] The screw said he’d soon cure him of his dirty French habits.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 117: ‘I was kissing Phyllis.’ I pursed the lips. Getting a bit French, this sequence.
[US] T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 67: So hot to be in the movies, was mostly making it in stags and French stuff.
[US](con. 1960s) R. Price Wanderers 61: The reason he was called French Charlie instead of just Charlie was because all his victims were women.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 12: National rivalries can be traced by the appearance in English of many negative phrases involving Dutch and French.

3. (US) unfashionable, vulgar, distasteful.

[US]‘Artemus Ward’ Artemus Ward, His Book 130: Obsarving to Mr. Strakhosh that he needn’t put on so many French airs becawz he run with a big show.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 136/2: French (S. of N. Amer. Soc.). Term used in Maryland and Virginia for any fashion that is disliked.

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

[US]K. Marlowe Mr Madam (1967) 52: I knew a lot about Sex but I didn’t know the vocabulary, the gay language. When one man asked, ‘You French?’ I thought he meant my nationality!

5. esp. as used by a prostitute, willing to give oral sex.

[UK]Flossie: A Venus of Fifteen (1902) 16: [cap. heading] How Flossie Acquired the French Tongue.
[US]Bawdy N.Y. State MS. n.p.: FUCUMALL HOTEL. Bill of Fare and Price List [...] FRENCH FASHION, with or without Finger in Ass-hole, – $3.60.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 178: I want a French broad. I don’t have to come here for the regular. I can get that at home.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 22: I’ll show you a good time, honey, I’m French.
[Aus](con. 1941) R. Beilby Gunner 258: You jigajig me, Sarchon? French way, very good.

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

In compounds

French active (n.)

(gay) the passive (sucked) partner in fellatio.

[US]Blackboiz for Other Boiz [Internet] 3 Jan. Sexually, I’m French active/passive and Greek passive, mostly vanilla but potentially adventurous if the mood and the company is right.
French bath (n.)

(US) fellatio.

[US] ‘The Love Guide’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 148: The winner shall receive a French bath by three professional French girls.
French box (n.)

(US) in a theatre, a private box in which a man may enjoy the services of a prostitute.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 27 Sept. 14/3: ‘Do you wish a French box?’ says the gentlemanly clerk. ‘What is the advantage of the box?’ we reply. ‘Oh [...] it is much more private.’ [...] The box [...] is slyly opened revealing two ballet girls in pink tights, one of whom says: ‘You look lonely, birdie’.
French date (n.)

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

[US]D. Maurer ‘Prostitutes and Criminal Argots’ in Lang. Und. (1981) 116/1: french. Intercourse through the mouth; French-date and French-girl are analogous to parallel compounds under straight.

2. a paid-for act of fellatio.

[US]B. Jackson Thief’s Primer 186: At a hotel, if it’s a straight date it’s usually $10, and French date, a blow job, is $20.
French embassy (n.)

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

[US]J. Rechy City of Night 24: They don’t call this Y the French Embassy for nothing.
[US]Maledicta III:2 218: In gay slang ethnic slurs abound. French Embassy YMCA.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French embassy n [R] YMCA with homosexuality running unchecked; homosexual slang.
[US] Queer Sl. in the Gay 90s [Internet] French Embassy – Any location, especially a gym or Y, where gay sex is readily available.
French-fried ice-cream (n.)

(gay) semen.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 53: French fried ice cream (kwn LV, black gay sl, mid ’60s) smooth, creamy semen.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French-fried ice cream n [R] Semen; homosexual slang.
French-fried ice water (n.)

(US gay) lumpy semen.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 53: French fried ice water (kwn LV, black gay sl, mid ’60s, lumpy semen forming a tapioca-like consistency).
French girl (n.)

(US Und.) a prostitute who offers fellatio.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Prostitutes and Criminal Argots’ in Lang. Und. (1981) 116/1: french. Intercourse through the mouth; French-date and French-girl are analogous to parallel compounds under straight.
French lady (n.)

(US) a fellator.

[US]Maledicta IX 55: Frenchie; French lady; [...] French woman n [R] Fellator; homosexual.
French language expert (n.)

(gay) a fellator.

[US]Maledicta IX 55: Frenchie; French lady; French language expert; French woman n [R] Fellator; homosexual.
French language training (n.)

(gay) the teaching of fellatio to another person.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French language training n [R] Teaching fellatio; homosexual slang.
French lessons (n.)

fellatio; by ext. other forms of commercial sex.

Man of Pleasure’s Illus. Pocket-book n.p.: You may pipe the crib by seeing a board whereon is inscribed the name of the piano faker, pallavring the swells and yokels that she ‘gives lessons in French without the aid of a master’.
French love (n.)


[US]D.W. Cory Homosexual in America 105: Certain forms of homosexual practices, and for that matter of heterosexual indulgences, namely fellatio and cunnilingus, are called in America French love.
[US]E. Shepard Doom Pussy 129: I’ve never made French love all the way. I stop just a second before and you take it from there.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 34: Act of sucking the penis until ejaculation [...] French job [love, way].
[US]Maledicta IX 54: French love n [R] Fellatio; homosexual slang.
[US]‘Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 30: They took turns giving me a juicy banquet of French love.
French passive (n.)

(gay) the fellator.

[US]Blackboiz for Other Boiz [Internet] 3 Jan. Sexually, I’m French active/passive and Greek passive, mostly vanilla but potentially adventurous if the mood and the company is right.
French polishing (n.)

fellatio; thus French polisher, a fellatrix.

[UK]P. Bailey Eng. Madam 82: I didn’t know what ‘French Polishing’ meant [...] Suddenly it dawned on me that I was selling myself as a plater. I’ve never enjoyed going down. [Ibid.] 99: She’s a genuine French Polisher, the real McCoy.
French style (adv.)

of sex, with the mouth, i.e. fellatio.

[US]D. Goines Street Players 55: How would you like it, sweetie, French style?
French tricks (n.) [Williams cites 17C use of French tricks as a general euph. for degeneracy/debauchery]

oral sex, of a man or a woman.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 197: If, though, she should be afraid of getting clucky [...] she may be satisfied with [...] French tricks or a flying 66 (rhyming slang on French tricks).
French way (n.)


[US]K. Worthy Homosexual Generation Ch. xvi: Faggots feel toward a man as a woman does, meaning that some who have intercourse by rectum can ‘finger themselves’. Others who do it the French way think of a man by just touching themselves.
[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]Maledicta III:2 159: French wayn Oral sex; W W I usage.

In phrases

French by injection (n.)

1. (US gay) said of anyone considered particularly well-versed in fellatio.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French by injection adj [R] Said of a first-class fellator.

2. (US) any American prostitute who opts for foreign customers.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases 14: american by injection (Vulg. Sl.) Referring both to a foreign Prostitute or other female love partner who Copulates regularly with Americans; a foreign Mistress. The term may be altered to French, German, Japanese, etc., when referring to an American female who Copulates with foreigners.
tell a French joke (v.)

(gay) to stimulate the anus orally.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French joke, tell a vphr [R] Oral stimulation of anus; homosexual slang.
[US]D. Lypchuk ‘A dirty little story’ in eye mag. 8 July [Internet] Then he told her a French joke right in her Hollywood uterus.
‘Chelsea G. Summers’ in Vice 10 June [Internet] I can sense in anilingus terms as disparate as Australian (you are going down under, after all), rosie (after ‘rosebud’), lickety-split (self-explanatory), and tell a French joke (ditto).

Pertaining to sex in general

In compounds

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

(US) a condom.

[US](con. 1920s) D. Maurer ‘Lang. and the Sex Revolution’ in AS LI 13: Euphemisms like...French cap...also became taboo.
French deck (n.)

(US) a pack of playing cards decorated with erotic pictures.

[UK]W. Sherman Times Square 23: The hottest item were ‘French Decks,’ fifty-two playing cards with nude women in varous positions showing just a hint of pubic hair.
French dip (n.)

(gay) vaginal juices.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 80: French dip is what you get when you finish fingering your girl friend.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French dip n [R] Vaginal precoital fluid; homosexual slang.
J. Morgan on [Internet] Puss Juice: Bitch Butter, clam jam, crotch oil, fanny batter, flap snot, French Dip, goose grease, crotch gravy, love juice.
French envelope (n.)

(S.Afr.) a condom.

Macnamra & Sagarin Sex, Crime, and the Law 255: French envelope – contraceptive, particularly a condom.
French fuck (n.) [fuck n. (1)]

(US) the rubbing of a man’s penis between a woman’s breasts.

[US]‘Justinian’ Amer. Sexualis 22: French Fuck, n. A form of sexual activity in which the male sits astride the recumbent female and achieves sexual orgasm by rubbing his penis between her breasts, while concomitantly effecting her orgasm by digital stimulation of her vaginal area [HDAS].
[US] oral testimony in Lighter HDAS II 816: A...French fuck is when you rub your dick between her breasts.
‘National/Ethnic Stereotype Expressions’ University of Tampere FAST Area Studies Program [Internet] French fuck—penis between female breasts, manual clitoral stimulation.
French handshake (n.)

(US teen) a form of handshake signifying a sexual interest or invitation.

[US]National Lampoon Apr. 34: You’re shakin’ hands, right? And one of you tickles the palm with the middle finger. It’s a signal the Frenchies use when they got the hots. They go around givin’ French handshakes till somebody says yes [HDAS].
‘National/Ethnic Stereotype Expressions’ University of Tampere FAST Area Studies Program [Internet] French handshake—tickling palm with middle finger while handshaking.
French kiss

see separate entries.

French letter (n.)

see separate entry.

French postcard (n.)

1. (orig. US, also French picture) an erotic picture postcard.

[US]V.F. Nelson Prison Days and Nights 90: He had a large assortment of photographs of women [...] including a goodly number of extraordinarily filthy ‘French’ pictures.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 15 Feb. [synd. col.] You’re not permitted to bring any foreign literature into Germany. Not even those French postcards.
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 154: She just loved to be photographed ... for a price. So now I have my own French pictures.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 192: It reminds me of a French postcard every time I think of it.
[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 7: The invention of photography, made it possible to produce what were politely called French prints and French postcards (or American cards in France).
R.E. Tyrrell Boy Clinton 147: Then he returns to Yoknapatawpha, where he sets up a ‘French postcard’ business.
S. Levy Scandalous Eye 59: Having obtained her consent, he would bring out a dirty French postcard.

2. (gay) an exciting prospective sexual partner.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]Maledicta III:2 218: In gay slang ethnic slurs abound. [...] French postcard handsome man.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French postcard n [R] Exciting, prospective sexual partner; homosexual slang.
French prints (n.)

1. pornographic pictures and engravings.

[UK]Thackeray Pendennis II 4: The French prints, the favourite actresses and dancers, the racing and coaching works of art, which suited his taste and formed his gallery.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 7: The invention of photography, made it possible to produce what were politely called French prints and French postcards (or American cards in France).

2. (gay) unusual heterosexual pornography.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French prints n [R] Unusual heterosexual pornography; homosexual slang.
French safe (n.) [safe n. (1)]

(Can./US) a condom.

in M.W. Hill Sisters’ Keepers 236: [advert] French Imported Male Safes—A Perfect Shield Against Disease or Conception, Made of both Skin & India Rubber.
[US](con. 1951) McAleer & Dickson Unit Pride (1981) 184: There was the usual good-natured ribbing about looking for French safes and whatnot.
[US]J. Ciardi Browser’s Dict. 140: French safe. A condom [HDAS].
‘National/Ethnic Stereotype Expressions’ University of Tampere FAST Area Studies Program [Internet] French safe—condom.
French tickler (n.) (also tickler)

a contraceptive sheath with extra protrusions for added stimulation.

[US]H.N. Cary Sl. of Venery.
Hot Dog Nov. 32: There is nothing funny about the Arbuckle case [...] It is a French tickler for sick temperaments.
[US] ‘The Rubber Salesman’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 50: [illus. of condom with protrusions] Have you got any of those fancy French things.
[US] joke cited in G. Legman Rationale of the Dirty Joke (1972) I 277: A druggist is selling a farmer a French tickler.
[US](con. 1950s) McAleer & Dickson Unit Pride (1981) 71: I wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole with a French tickler on it.
[US]G. Wolff Duke of Deception (1990) 117: The cards were kept in a cigar box with [...] a thing whose use we couldn’t guess at, which I knew the following year was a French tickler.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 129: You want a French tickler — drive her wild?
[US](con. 1910s–20s) F.M. Davis Livin’ the Blues 37: If you wanted to drive a gal wild you put on a French Tickler.
[Ire]P. Howard Miseducation of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (2004) 201: A three-pack of extra-sensitive, gossamer, ribbed ticklers.
Maslowski & Winslow Looking For A Hero 80: Or perhaps they could heave the metal in [i.e. his penis] and it would serve as a French tickler. 3 Oct. [Internet] French ticklers, a type of condom with extra bumps on the outside, were proof people knew women got pleasure from sex.

Pertaining to venereal disease

In derivatives

Frenched (adj.)

venereally diseased.

‘Peter Aretine’ Strange and True Newes 2: Being terribly Pepered with the French pox [...] and desperately be-french’d.

In compounds

French alamode (n.)

venereal disease.

[UK]A great & famous scoldling-match 3: If all be true as was reported, he made you amends afterwards, by making you a fine present with a French Alamode, You know my meaning, Bess, I am sure.
French chillblains (n.)

venereal disease.

[UK]Dekker Honest Whore Pt 2 (1630) V ii: Bawd, are the French Chilbalines in your heeles, that you can come no faster?
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]

venereal disease.

[UK]Marston ‘Redde, age, quae deinceps rifisti’ Scourge of Villanie I C7: Tullus goe scotfree, though often bragg’st / That for a false French-crowne, thou vaulting hadst / Though that thou know’st for thy incontinence / Thy drab repay’d thee, true French pestilence.
[UK]Dekker Honest Whore Pt 1 I v: Ha signior; haz he fitted your French curse?
R. Turner Nosce Te EIv: Winke at small faultes for thy wench Hath a pocky sort of crownes, all onely French.
[UK]S. Butler Hudibras Pt III canto 1 lines 715–16: ’Tis hard to say in multitudes / Or who imported the French Goods.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: French Gout, the Pox.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: French disease, the venereal disease [...] French gout, the same.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 169: French gout a certain disease, which is also known as ‘ladies’ fever’.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 40: Bonde, f. Syphilis; ‘French gout’.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks 42/1: French gout, syphilis.
[UK] (ref. 1940s) B. Morrison Things My Mother Never Told Me 144: ‘Now lads,’ he begins, ‘you know what I’m here to talk about: VD. The clap, the pox, syph, dripsy, French gout and all the other things they call it.’.
French disease (n.) (also disease/malady of France)

venereal disease, esp. syphilis.

[G. Fracastoro [bk title] Syphilis sive morbus gallicus].
[UK]Three Lords and Three Ladies of London F3: The olde French disease take him.
[UK]Tom Tel-troths Message 43: Thousands of Whores [...] Infect mens bodies with the French disease.
T. Overbury A Wife, with many witty Characters G4: That vaine-glory, new fashions and the French disease, are vpon tearmes of quitting their Countries Allegance, to bee made free Denisons of England.
[UK]W. Davenant Platonic Lovers III i: He took the diet, sir, And in that very tub sweat for the French disease.
[UK]New Merry Letany 3: From the Calenture, and the French disease [...] Libera nos.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 19 4–11 Oct. 168: So that no other Hospital shall be troubled to cure the Morbus Gallicus or French Disease.
[UK]Head Hic et Ubique III iii: Let the excellency of your skill chiefly consist in the cure of the French Disease; I’le warrant you Patients enough.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 28 Aug. n.p.: [advert] His pills only prepared for the French Disease, and the Running of the Reins, may had in Boxes of several prices with other Veuerca Arcana's , as occasion requires, with Directions.
[UK]Pagan Prince 13: The great Men at Court had forbidden the French Disease to trouble the Bumpkins, as being more desirous to entertain it themselves.
[UK]T. Baker Tunbridge Walks Prologue: You soft Sirs [...] hate French Bullets worse than French Disease.
[UK]C. Walker Authentick Memoirs of Sally Salisbury 137: My Constitution very much impair’d by the French-Disease.
[UK] ‘Doctor A--- Advice to his Patients’ Button Hole Garland 4: Her eager Look yet may by Chance, / Contract the old Disease of France.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
French measles (n.) (also French cannibal, ...morbus)

venereal disease, esp. syphilis.

[UK]Pennyless Parliament of Thread-bare Poets 24: The French Morbus, by Commission, shall be worth three Weeks Diet.
[UK]J. Cook Greenes Tu Quoque Scene xiii: May the French Canniball eate into thy flesh.
[UK]Chapman Widow’s Tears V iii: If they be poor they shall be burnt to make soap-ashes, or given to Surgeon’s Hall to be stamped to salve for the French measles.
Observator 4 23–27 June 25: Let ’em [i.e. townspeople] have the French language, the French Measles, aye and the French Government too if they please to go to France.
[US]Maledicta IX 55: French measles n [D ca. 1600] Syphilis [...] French measles n [D ca. 1600] Syphilis.
French pox (n.)

venereal disease, esp. syphilis.

[UK]A. Barclay Eglogues Biii: Oft under yalowe lockes, Be hyd fowle scabbes, and fearful frenche pockes.
[UK]W. Bullein Bk of Compoundes fol. 47: Many men, women and children, now a daies, be greuiously bred with a shamefull disease, called the Frenche Pockes.
[UK]G. Whetstone Mirrour for Magestrates of Citties (2nd edn) 26: They go to some blind brothel-house where [...] for a Pottle or two of wyne, the imbracement of a paynted Harlot, and the French Pockes for a reckoning, they Punie payeth fortie shillings.
[UK]Marston Metamorphosis of Pigmalions Satyre 1 34: Thou that did’st march with Spanish Pike Come with French-pox out of that brothell dore.
[UK]E. Topsell Hist. of Serpents 34: The fat of a black Serpent, is mixt to good purpose with those oyntments that are prepared against the French or Spanish-pox.
[UK]Webster Devil’s Law-Case II i: When did you euere heare, that a Cocke Sparrow Had the French poxe?
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Epigrams’ in Works (1869) II 263: But yet I would the French had held together, / And kept their pox, and not translate them hether.
[UK]Horn & Robotham (trans.) Gate of Languages Unlocked Ch. 85 827: A whore-hunter (ruffian, brotheller) haunteth the stewes (rangeth and rampeth over whore-houses) where, being branded with the french pox, he is paid (served well enough) for his wantonesse.
[UK]T. Randolph Hey for Honesty V i: Had I the palsy [...] ague, fever, French pox, and a whole cart-load of diseases.
[UK]Wandring Whore I 3: The cure of the French pox and perillous infirmity of burning remedyed.
[UK]S. Butler ‘Dildoides’ in Rochester & Others Works (1739) 185: By Dildoe, Monsieur there intends / For his French pox to make amends.
[UK]Whores Rhetorick 37: They might ’scape the Halter, starving in a corner, rotting of the Canker, or the French-Pox, if they were not silly idle, ridiculous, negligent, absurd asses.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 15 Jan. n.p.: These Famous Family Pills and Family Powder, are eminent for the Cure [...] of Agues, Green Sickness, Catarrsh, Head-act, Lethargy, Rheuming Eyes, Stinking-Breath, Want of Appetite, Illness of stomach, Stuffing at Stomach, Vomiting, Fluxes, Foulness of Stomach, Hard-drinking, Sea-Sickness, Urine stopt, Barrenness, Soiatica, Numbness, French-Pox, Gonerrhei, Swellings, Lameness, Pain in any part, Pushes, Wheals, Botches, Scabs, ltch, Tetarrs, Ring-worms, Morphew, Leprosie, Marge, Salt-humours, All breaking-out, Running-Sores, Old Ulcers, Fistulas, Jaundice, Kings-evil, Worms, &c.
[UK] ‘Old England turn’d New’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy I 140: And new fashion’d Hats, for your new Pated Blocks, / And more New Diseases, besides the French pox.
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 191: Joe. I have got the French-Pox upon me.
[UK]Stamford Mercury 5 June 3/2: London, May 29. Bill of Mortality from May 20 to May 27. Aged — 41 [...] Fever — 59. French-Pox — 2.
[UK]Bailey (trans.) Erasmus’ Colloquies 198: That leprous Infection they call French Pox han’t yet seiz’d thee.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 105: He that installed him, cried out for Silence, bidding the French and English Pox to light on their Throats for making such a Yelping.
[UK]Bog-House and Glass-Window Misc. 37: There’s none beshits the Wall but Sons of B--ches. / May the French Pox, and the Devil take them all.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Cancer (1963) 87: Kepi says it must have been the great French pox, but Nanantatee avers that it was the Japanese clap.
[US]Maledicta III:2 159: French poxn Syphilis.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 12: National rivalries can be traced by the appearance in English of many negative phrases involving Dutch and French, e.g., [...] French leave, departure without notice; and French pox, syphilis.
French razor (n.)


[UK]Dekker Dead Tearme in Works IV 28: The unwholesome breath of Autumne, who is so full of diseases, that his very blowing uppon trees, makes theyr leavs to fal off (as the French Razor shaves off the haire of many of thy Suburbians).

In phrases

take French lessons (v.)

to contract venereal disease.

[US]Maledicta IX 55: French lessons, take v phr [D] Contract venereal disease.

SE in slang uses

Pertaining to brandy

In compounds

French article (n.)


[UK](con. 18C) W. Scott Guy Mannering (1999) 48: Get out the gallon punch-bowl, and plenty of lemons. I’ll stand for the French article by the time I come back, and well drink the young Laird’s health.
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)]


[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: French Cream Brandy when drank in Tea.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: French Cream. Brandy; so called by the old tabbies and dowagers when drank in their tea.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Yorks. Gaz. 15 Sept. 5/1: [He] invited his friends to coffee and French cream on the morning of the poll.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 314/2: french cream, eau-de-vie.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[UK]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 1 Feb. 4/2: French cream is brandy.
[US]Maledicta III:2 159: French creamn [...] Brandy; from the importation of brandy from France.
French elixir (n.)


[US]Maledicta III:2 159: French elixir n Brandy; from the importation of brandy from France.
French lace (n.)


[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 608: Not forgetting blue ruin and French lace*. [*French lace—A flash or cant term for brandy].

General uses

French bathe

see separate entries.

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

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

[UK]I. Hebditch ‘Weekend’ unpub. thesis in Hewitt (2000) 133: I see Harry and get my tabs from him – thirty ‘French’ Blues at sixpence a time.
[UK]T. Parker Frying-Pan 85: Breaking into chemists’ shops and stealing Dexedrine, French Blues, anything you could dispose of within an hour.
[UK]S. McConville ‘Prison Lang.’ in Michaels & Ricks (1980) 526: Amphetamine-barbiturate mixtures seem to have spawned a particularly vivid range of nicknames and images, often arising from the appearance or color of capsules in which they are taken. These include [...] French-blue.

2. (US drugs) amphetamine.

[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 9: French blue — Amphetamine.
French fits (n.) [? a link to insanity attendant on syphilis, i.e. the French disease ; or ? pertaining to brandy, see combs. above]

(US) delirium tremens.

[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 148: Too much dope for the time. I was having the French fits coming out of it.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 106: We’ve got a file on what we call the barred window boys, Doctor. Places where you can’t jump out when the French fits take over.
French inhale (v.) [the supposed sophistication of the French]

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

[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 21: He watched the smoke curl into her nose as she french-inhaled.
[US](con. 1950s) Jacobs & Casey Grease I iv: I’ll show ya how to French inhale.
[US]L. Bing Do or Die (1992) 217: He takes another deep pull on his cigarette, allowing the smoke to drift in a thick cloud from his mouth before pulling it back in through his nostrils [...] We called it French inhaling.
[US]G. Pelecanos Drama City 172: Meadows hit his cigarette [...] and French-inhaled.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] Hit lit his cigarette, French inhaled, and then replied [etc.].

2. (US black/drugs) to deeply inhale cannabis smoke.

[US]A. Young Snakes (1971) 53: He took a puff and pinched his nostrils shut with his fingers and then blew into them without letting anything escape. ‘That’s what you call frenchin and that’ll usually get anybody straight right quick.’.
French leave (n.)

see separate entry.

French peasoup (n.)

(US/Can.) a French immigrant.

[US]Maledicta VII 21: Immigrant Quebeckers were a more visible group, and their staple peasoup by the 1890s resulted in johnny peasoup and the popular variants [...] pea souper, and French peasoup.
French screwdriver (n.) [supposed French inability to perform simple manual tasks]

a hammer.

[US]Maledicta IX 55: French screwdriver n Hammer.
French vanilla (n.) [play on popular variety of ice cream] (US black teen)

1. a sexy white woman.

Gold & Cheney Body Politic 213: Flowing red hair, hot hazel eyes, French vanilla complexion.

2. a light-coloured black woman.

R. Winegarten et al. Black Texas Women 291: Some are french vanilla with thighs of thunder, thighs that strain to admit light into their tropical crotches as they stride, sashay, swing wide their arms [etc.].
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 151: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Redbone. Hi-Yella. French vanilla. Butter pecan. Chocolate deluxe. Caramel sundae.
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]

(US) the posture assumed by those being thrown bodily out of a saloon.

[US]Maledicta III:2 159: French walk n Ejecting one from a place forcibly; possibly from the method employed by French pirates to make prisoners walk the plank.
Frenchwoman (n.) [fig. use of French to mean strange, mysterious]

(W.I.) a fortune-teller.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).

In phrases

take a French (v.)

(US) to wager, to take a bet.

[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 110: ‘[I’m] willin’ t’ take a French dat I’ll be in at de finish fer a cut at some part o’ de money’.
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 122: ‘W'y, a guy’d have his own troubles gettin’ a mark to take a French dat George Washington was dead’.