The direct translation of “un bisou” in English is “a
Different Ways To Say
Kiss In French
Do you know how many ways there are to say the word
Have you heard of these?
Smooch, peck, snog, smackeroo, suck face, swap spit, necking, tonsil hockey, make out, and of course everyone’s favourite, French
Each one of these words generally means the same thing but isn’t used in the same way. For instance, you probably wouldn’t say “do you want to swap spit or play tonsil hockey” with someone you just met, would you?
Given all these nuanced ways of saying
Spoiler alert, you know how French fries are not called French fries in France; they’re called “les Frites;” a French
Signing off and closing the end of a letter, card or message with a “kiss.”
Before we dig into this list of words and expressions for kissing in French, it’s important to know that it’s very common to write “kisses” in French at the end of letters, emails, cards and other correspondence with family, close friends and some work colleagues.
Be careful; the two most used sign-offs using “kisses” (bises and bisous) have different degrees of intimacy.
- Bises: with friends or colleagues you work closely with. And relatives that you are not close with like a cousin or aunt you don’t talk to very often.
- Bisous: for very close intimate friends and family. Your parents, siblings, best friends, close friends, etc.
If used incorrectly, you might give someone the wrong idea. And if you don’t use them for certain people, you might inadvertently make someone feel snubbed.
And lastly, you never want to use kisses (bises or bisous) for formal or professional correspondence, like with your banker. But in some instances, it may be acceptable with co-workers.
If all this sounds confusing, all will be explained below.
KISSES IN FRENCH
1) Un Bisou: (a
\Bee-Zoo\ Un Bisou (singular) Des bisous (plural)
Bisous is a
Give me some
kisses: Fais-moi des bisous.
Can I give you a
kiss?: Je peux te faire un bisou?
I wanted to
kissyou: J’avais envie de te faire un bisou.
I’m going to
kissyou: Je vais te faire un bisou.
Bisous on letters, messages and correspondence
Only use bisous on correspondence with people you have close relationships with.:
A lover, boyfriend or girlfriend, a close friend, close family, brother, sister, parents and children, etc.
If this sounds too intimate for family or friends, don’t worry; it’s not taken in a romantic way, it’s very nuanced.
Having said that, if you don’t close a message with bisous with someone you are romantically involved with, your husband, boyfriend or lover, they may feel snubbed, and you may come off as cold. Brrrrr!
Here are a few ways you can end a letter with bisous:
- Gros bisous (big kisses)
- Doux bisous (soft kisses)
- Tendres bisous (tender kisses)
- Plein de bisous (lots of kisses)
- Mille bisous (a thousand kisses)
2) Le Bise (a
\BeeZ\ Une Bise (singular) Des bises (plural)
Although bise means a
If you’re not familiar with la bise; it’s the French way of greeting someone and saying hello or goodbye to friends and family with two, three, and sometimes four consecutive cheek
I wrote a comprehensive guide about la bise and how to greet French friends here. It’s a topic that often confuses newcomers to France.
Depending on how the word bise is used in a sentence, it has a broader meaning than just a
For instance, when someone says I’m going to give him “la bise”, idiomatically speaking, this could also mean that you are going to say hello.
Here are a few examples of what I mean.
Shall we cheek
kiss? On se fait la bise?
- I’m going to say hello: Je vais lui faire une bise.
kissto Jean for me: Fais une grosse bise à Jean pour moi.
- Come and say hello to your aunt!: Viens faire une bise à ta tante!
- I’ve always hated cheek kissing.: J’ai toujours détesté faire la bise.
Bises on letters, messages and correspondence
“BISES” is amicable not tender. It’s familiar but more formal than “Bisous, which is more intimate, and tender.
You’ll usually say bises to family, friends, or distant relatives you know but are not close with, such as a cousin, aunt, great uncle etc. You can also use bises with colleagues with whom you have a close working relationship.
In short, use this to end a message to anyone with whom saying something like “Cordialement” would be too formal, but Bisous is too intimate.
A good litmus test of which on to use: Bises or Bisous:
- If you would cheek
kisssomeone in real life, but they are not close, use Bise.
- If you would cheek
kisssomeone in real life who you are very close with, use bisous.
- If you would not cheek
kisssomeone in real life, you use neither. You would close your letter with something more formal such as Cordialement.
Here are a few ways you can end a letter with bisous:
- Goodbye and kisses to all: Au revoir et bises à tous
kiss: Grosse bise
- Big kisses: Grosses bises
- Good buy and give my love to everyone: Au revoir et grosses bises à tous
kissto you, and a thousand thank yous for all that you do for us.: Une grosse bise à toi, et encore mille mercis pour tout ce que tu a fait pour nous
3) Embrasser (to
Embrasser is a verb that means To
Watch out! Embrasser DOES not mean “To Hug”. The French verb “embrasser” is a French false friend in English. False friends are words that are identical or sounds similar but mean something entirely different. French false friends are usually words that have been borrowed from the French language but their use has been distorted over the years in English. The french word for a hug or to embrace in your arms is calin, serrer (dans les bras), prendre dans les bras.
Do you want to
kissme? : Veut-tu m’embrasser?
I want to
kissyou! j’ai envie de t’embrasser!
My wife doesn’t want to
kissme anymore.: Ma femme ne veut plus m’embrasser.
kissyou, I’m afraid I’ll fall in love with you.: Si je vous embrasse, j’ai peur de tomber amoureuse.
Everyone loves to
kiss: Tout le monde aime embrasser!
kissone another any more: Ils ne s’embrassent plus
Embrasser on letters, messages and correspondence
In correspondence, use the French verb “embrasser” at the end of a letter like you would bise, for friends and relatives with whom you are familiar but not close. Although embrasser means to
- je vous embrasse: (I
- Je vous embrasse tous (I
- je t’embrasse chaleureusement (this is equivalent to saying “warm regards” but the literal translation is “warm
4) Un Baiser: (watch out when you say this
Watch out when using baiser because it has two different meanings in French.
If you use it as a verb, it’s a Dirty French phrase!
“Baiser” =” f#@ck.”
- Can I f#@ck you?: Je peux te baiser?
If you use it as a noun, it’s a harmless
“un baiser” = a kiss.
- Can I give you a
kiss?: Je peux to donner un baiser?
Here are other embarrassing mistakes you should avoid in French.
Other ways to use baiser
Le baise main:
To blow a
envoyer un baiser –
5) Un Bécot: (A smooch or a peck)
Bécoter : To smooch(verb)
Give grandma a
kiss: fais un bécot à mamie
- Did you see the lovers kissing on the public bench? :
- Why did you leave without giving me a peck? Pour quoi t’es parti sans me faire un bécot
6) Un Bec: (A peck or
kiss -Quebecois French)
Julie gave him a big
In English, it’s easy to describe kissing someone with tongue because there’s a word for it which is both a noun and a verb; French
- Verb: I French kissed him
- Noun: I gave him a French
The irony is for centuries; there has been no single word in the French language for the act of French kissing.
You had to say something crazy long like:
- Faire un baiser profond avec la langue
- Kiss deeply with the tongue.
It’s a mouthful, so there are many slang words for French
7) Frencher or se Frencher (a French
kiss– Quebec French)
I have never heard anyone say this in France, but it’s the term used in Quebec.
8) Un patin (a French
Rouler un patin: “to roll a skate”
9) Une Pelle (a French
Rouler une pelle: “to roll a shovel”
10) Un Palot (a French
Rouler une palot
11) Une Galoche (a French
Rouler une galoche
12) Galocher (To French
Up until 2014, there was no officially recognized French verb for the act of French kissing. People had to use slang terms and phrases like the ones I listed above, or really long descriptive phrases.
In 2014 “Galocher” was officially recognized and was added to Le Petit Robert French dictionary.
I want to French
How to conjugage Galocher: To French
- je galoche: I French
- tu galoches : You French
- il/elle:on galoche: He:she French kisses
- nous galochons: We French
- vous galochez: You French
- Ils:elles galochent: They French
The verb Galocher isn’t a new word. The original meaning of Galocher is “the noise made while walking with galoche shoes. “Les Galoches” are any leather shoes with a wooden sole and may come from Latin Gallicus — Gaulish shoe. It’s where the English word Galoshes comes from.
Words changing meaning over time is a normal process in any language called semantic change. For instance, did you know the word “cute” originally meant sharp or quick-witted and was made by shortening the word “acute”?
“The word “nice” originally meant a stupid, ignorant or foolish person. And unsurprisingly, a “spinster” used to be a woman who spun yarn or thread.
So there you have it.
Go forth and ask for kisses in French with confidence.