Why is England in French called Angleterre? + audio pronunciation

Ever wondered why England is called Angleterre in French? Unravel the mystery and explore the fascinating history behind this linguistic curiosity

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
England In French Translation
England In French Translation

Here’s how to say England in French and how the French word for England is closely related to the English word even though they look nothing alike. I’ve also included a few other useful British country terms, which you can listen to how they are pronounced in French.

How to say England in French

The French word for “England” is “Angleterre“.

It’s almost unrecognizable to anyone who doesn’t speak French. Why the big difference between English and French? 

Pronounced: Ong-luh-Tear

Country Name: England to French Translation

Sometimes the names of countries are the same or similar across other spoken languages.

Canada, for example, sounds virtually the same in every language. 

Then there’s “England,” which is spelled like it is in English in some European languages like German, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian.

In other languages, “England” doesn’t quite sound the same as it does in English, but it’s still recognizable, even if you don’t speak that other language.

Can you recognize these? “Englanti” (Finnish), “Engeland” (Dutch), or “Englandi” (Icelandic.)

You might be interested in reading: 100 Country Names +Their Nationalities In French: Masculine Or Feminine? 

England & Angleterre = Land of the Angles

At first glance, “England” and “Angleterre” look unrelated; however, if you dig a little deeper, you begin to see a connection. 

The English word England comes from Old English, Engla land, which like the French word, “Angleterre” means “land of the Angles.”

Over the course of time, the “a” from “Engla land” was dropped from the old English word, something that linguists call haplology. 

In some languages, the word for England sounds very similar to the French word. 

In Romanian, Polish, Russian and Greek, for example, the word for “England” all sound similar to “Anglia.”

Who were the Angles?

The Angles, along with the Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians, were Germanic tribes originally from current-day northern Germany, Denmark and Holland.

Together, they formed a very powerful group and were the main Germanic tribes that invaded Britain in the 5th century, forming Anglo-Saxon England.

Some historians believe the Angles were called the Angles because of the area they originally inhabited, the Anglia Peninsula (Angeln in modern German, Angel in Danish).

ANGLO-SAXON word origin

The term “Anglo-Saxon” combines the names of the Angles and the Saxons and was first used around the 8th century. 

Other words in the English language are also named after the Angles, including:

  • Anglican
  • Anglo
  • Anglophone
  • Anglophil
  • Anglophobe

In French, there are just as many words related to the Angles. 

  • Anglais
  • Anglophone
  • Anglomanie
  • Anglophile

Why was England named after the Angles and not the Saxons?

Theoretically, England could have become “Saxonland” or “land of the Saxons” instead of  Engla land, then England. How and why England was named after the Angles tribe and not the Saxons is not known.

Naming places after the people that inhabited lands common, and many places, not just England, were named this way. 

For example, Paris was named after a Gallic Celtic tribe called the Parisii, who lived on the banks of Paris’s Seine river during the Iron Age and through the Roman era.

France was also named after a Germanic people who invaded and inhabited the area. They were known as the Franks and France was originally called the Frankish Kingdom. 

a Map of the Frank kingdom: Germanic tribe that inhabited France and surrounding areas

The Saxon name isn’t completely gone. It lives on in names such as Wessex, Sussex, Essex, and Middlesex which were named after the old Saxon kingdoms and the people who inhabited them: West Saxons, South Saxons, East Saxons, and Middle Saxons.

The Saxon people also gave birth to the Scottish Gaelic word for England, “Sasainn.” And an English person is “Sassenach” in Gaelic and “Saesneg” in Welsh. 

Let”s move on to some other useful UK and Great Britain country names in French. 

Other useful UK country terms.

How to say English in French!

Pronounced: On-Glay

How to say the United Kingdom in French!

Le Royaume-Uni
Pronounced: Luh-Roy-Ohm-Uny

How to say Great Britain in French!

La Grande-Bretagne
Pronounced: Lah-Gron-Bruh-Tanyuh

How to say Wales in French

Pays de Galles,” “country of the Galles.”
Pronounced: Payee-duh-Gal

The second language spoken in Wales is Welsh which is called Gallois” in French.

How to say Scotland in French

Pronounced: Lay-Kosse

How to say Church of England in French

Église d’Angleterre
Pronounced: Ay-Gleeze-Don-Glah-Tear

 The other term for the Church of England is Anglican church which in French is “l’Église anglicane.”

Here’s how to pronounce Anglicane in French.

Pronounced: On-Glee-Con

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.

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