A Look at How Many French Words Have English and Spanish Cognates

Warning: Long, 22 pages.

This post is just for fun. I didn’t look up any of these words in an etymological dictionary, so I’m just guessing here. I think some of my guesses are probably wrong, but I just wanted to see how many obvious cognates there were on first examination. It’s quite incredible how many French words have an English or Spanish or both cognate. This shows that if you know Spanish or English very well and you know the other language fairly well, you might be able to get a lot of French words just via inference with cognates.

The cognates is used very loosely here and also applies to obvious borrowings. I’m quite aware that most of the French words in English are borrowings, but the ones that match in Spanish are more genetic from a common Romance root. There are also many Latin borrowings in English that have a French cognate. So really I am looking for lookalikes that have a relationship to each other, whether or borrowing or genetics.

I could not find matches for quite a few of these French words. If you can think of any English or French matches – borrowings or cognates – with these words, let me know. And if any of my etymologies are wrong, also let me know, please.

Thank you very much and have fun!

English              Français

yesterday            hier Similar to Spanish ayer.

tomorrow             demain                                      
morning              matin Similar to English matinee "movie shown early in the day."

evening              soir Similar to English soiree "cocktail party usually held at night."

day                  jour Similar to English journal "running commentary on one's activities by day," Spanish jornada "day, time, working day, day trip."

night                nuit Similar to English night.

moon                 lune Similar to English lunar "about the moon" and Spanish luna.

sun                  soleil Similar to English solar "about the sun" and Spanish sol.

star                 étoile Similar to Spanish estrella and English star.

wind                 vent Same as English vent "place where air (wind) comes into a house" and Spanish ventre.

sky                  ciel Similar to English ceiling "part of a house above your head" and same as Spanish ciel.

God                  Dieu Similar to Spanish Dios and English deity "a god."

world                monde Similar to Spanish mundo and English mundane related to " worldly, earthly, secular, fashionable."

ground               sol Similar to English soil and Spanish el suelo "floor, soil, ground, land, deck, earth."

river                fleuve déù Same as English and Spanish fluvial "of or relating to or happening in a river.

stream               rivière Similar to English river and Spanish ribereño "riparian, riverside, riverine, river, riverbank, riverain."

pond, lake           marigot

hill                 colline Similar to Spanish la colina.

bush                 brousse Similar to Spanish arbusto "scrub, scrubland" and English arbutus "either of two evergreen plants of the family Ericaceae (heath family)."

field                champ Similar to Spanish campo and English camp "temporary place to say in the wilds or fields" and "to set up a temporary place to visit for recreation in the wilds or fields."

market               marché Similar to English market and Spanish marqueta.

house                maison Similar to English mansion.

room                 chambre Similar to English chamber and Spanish la cámara "camera, chamber, cameraman, vault, hall, innertube."

wall                 mur Similar to English mural "drawing on a wall" and Spanish el muro.

roof                 toit

shelter              abri Similar to Spanish el abrigo "coat, shelter, overcoat, cover, protection, covering."

granary              grenier Similar to English granary and Spanish el granero "barn, granary, garner."

well                 puits Similar to English pit.

road, path           route, sentier Similar to English route, "to send, to put something on its way to someplace else via a means of movement for things" and Spanish la ruta "route, road, way, journey, itinerary, lane" and el sendero "path, trail, footpath."

village              village Same as English village and Spanish villa.

public place         place Same as English place and Spanish plaza.

human being          personne Similar to English person and Spanish persona.

man                  homme Similar to Spanish hombre and English Homo (proper name for the human subspecies).

woman                femme Same as English femme fatale and Spanish feminina "feminine."

child                enfant Same as English enfant in enfant terrible and similar to infant and Spanish el infante "infant."

husband              mari Similar to English married "to be in a marriage" and Spanish marido.

wife                 épouse Similar to English spouse "one you are married to" and Spanish esposa.

father               père Similar to English Pa and patrilineal "father's family line", Spanish padre.

mother               mère Similar to English Ma and matrilineal "mother's family line," Spanish madre.

friend               ami Similar to Spanish amigo and English amiable "friendly."

chief                chef Same as English chef .

English              Français

hunter               chasseur Same as English chasseur "a soldier, usually in the light cavalry, equipped and trained for rapid movement, especially in the French army" - one who hunts the enemy in wartime and similar to English chaser "one who chases (hunts)."

weaver               tisserand

thief                voleur Similar to English villain.

healer               guérisseur

witch                sorcière Similar to English sorcerer.

corpse               cadavre Similar to English cadaver and Spanish le cadavre "corpse, body, carcass, dead body, cadaver."

blacksmith           forgeron Similar to English forge "to work with molten iron" forjador "descended from a family of blacksmiths."

hunger               faim Similar to English famine.

horn                 corne Similar Spanish el cuerno "horn, antler, cusp, croissant" and English coronet "type of horn instrument."

tail                 queue Same as English queue "long line resembling an animal's tail."

egg                  œuf Similar to Spanish el huevo and English ovum.

wing                 aile Similar to Spanish la ala.

feather              plume Same as English nom de plume "writer's name" and plume and Spanish pluma.

anthill              termitière/fourmilière Similar to English termite "ant like creature that eats and lives in wood."

hole, pit            trou Similar to English trowel "tool to dig holes with."

hole in tree         trou dans arbre Similar to Spanish arbol "tree."

poison               poison Same as English poison.

load                 fardeau, charge Similar to English cargo and Spanish carga.

stick                bâton Similar to English baton "stick for twirling in a parade."

work                 travail Same as English travails "day to day worries (works)" and Spanish trabajo.

fighting             combat Same as English combat and similar to Spanish combatir "to fight."

medicine             médicament Similar to English medicine and Spanish medicina.

money                argent Same as English argent "silver, silvery white."

shadow               ombre Similar to Spanish sombra and English umbra "fully shaded inner region of a shadow cast by an opaque object, especially the area on the earth or moon experiencing the total phase of an eclipse."

thing                chose Similar to Spanish cosa.

land/country         pays Similar to Spanish pais and English Pax "world."

sickness/disease     maladie Same as English malady and Spanish mal "bad."

sore/wound           plaie Similar to English plague.

scar                 cicatrice Similar to Spanish cicatrix.

Body Parts 

English              Français

head                 tête Similar to Spanish la testa "head, brains" and English test "exercise to see how well your brain works."

eye                  oeil Similar to Spanish ojo.

face                 visage Same as English visage.

cheek                joue Similar to English jowl.

forehead             front Same as English front "the part of something that faces you" and similar to Spanish frente.

nose                 nez Similar to English nose.

ear                  oreille Similar to Spanish oreja.

mouth                bouche Similar to English buss "kiss" and Spanish boca.

lip                  lèvre Similar to English verge "edge or border."

tooth                dent Similar to English dental "having to do with teeth."

tongue               langue Similar to English language and Spanish lengua.

throat               gorge Same as English gorge and similar to Spanish garganta.

neck                 cou Similar to Spanish cuello and English collar "where a shirt goes around your neck."

English              Français

chin                 menton Similar to Spanish el mentón.

shoulder             épaule Similar to English epaulette "an ornamental shoulder piece on an item of clothing, especially on the coat or jacket of a military uniform."

armpit               aisselle Similar to Spanish la axila and English axilla.

arm                  bras Similar to Spanish el brazo and English "a part of a tree which grows out from the trunk or from a bough ("arm" of a tree).

hand                 main Similar to English manual "work done with one's hands" and Spanish el mano.

elbow                coude Similar to Spanish codo.

leg                  jambe Similar to English limb "arm or leg" and ham "part of a pig for eating" and same as Spanish jambe.

foot                 pied Similar to English pedestrian "person who walks" and Spanish pie.

thigh                cuisse

knee                 genou Similar to English genouflect "to bend with the knee."

nail                 ongle Similar to English unguis "nail, claw, or fang" and Spanish la uña "nail, fingernail, claw."

breast (female)      sein Similar to Spanish cena and English sinus "relating to or denoting the sinoatrial node of the heart or its function as a pacemaker" - a part of the heart located near the breasts.

stomach              ventre Similar to Spanish el vientre "belly, stomach, abdomen" and English venter "underside or abdomen of an animal."

navel                nombril Similar to Spanish el ombligo and English umbilicus "umbilical cord that comes out of the navel" and omphalos "the center or hub of something."

back                 dos Similar to Spanish el dorso and English dorsal "upper side or back of an animal, plant, or organ."

buttocks             fesses

skin                 peau Similar to Spanish el piel and English pelt "skin of an animal with the fur, wool, or hair still on it."

bone                 os Similar to English ossuary "place where bones are stored" and Spanish hueso.

rib                  côte Similar to Spanish la costilla and English coast "'rib' of the land."

blood                sang Similar to Spanish el sangre.

tear                 larme Similar to Spanish la lagrima.

saliva               salive Similar to English and Spanish saliva.

sweat                sueur Similar to English sweat

urine                urine Same as English urine and similar to Spanish la urina.

hair                 cheveux

liver                foie Same as English foie in "foie gras."

heart                coeur Similar to English coronary "about the heart" and Spanish corazon.

intestines           intestins Similar to English intestines.

lung                 poumon Similar to English pulmonary "about the lungs."

body                 corps Similar to English corpse "dead body."

meat                 viande Similar to Archaic English viands "an item of food."

Animals              Animals 

English              Français

animal               animal Same as English animal and Spanish el animal.

camel                chameau Similar to English camel. 

cow                  vache Similar to Spanish la vaca.

bull                 taureau Similar to Spanish el toro.

goat                 chèvre Similar to Spanish la cabra.

sheep                mouton Similar to English mutton "meat of a mature sheep."

pig                  cochon Similar to Spanish el cochino.

horse                cheval Similar to Spanish el caballo and English cavalry "fighting force with horses."

donkey               âne Similar to Spanish el asno and English ass.

English              Français

dog                  chien

cat                  chat Similar to English cat and Spanish el gato.

elephant             éléphant Similar to English elephant.

buffalo              buffle Similar to English buffalo.

lion                 lion Same as English lion and similar to Spanish el leon.

leopard              tigre/panthère Similar to English tiger and panther and same as Spanish tigre.

hyena                hyène Similar to English hyena.

genet                genette Similar to English genet.

jackal               chacal Similar to English jackal.

porcupine            porc-épic Similar to English porcupine.

patas monkey         singe rouge

baboon               babouin Similar to English baboon.

galago, lemur        galago Same as English and Spanish galago "lemur, bush baby" "small nocturnal primate (lemur) with a long bushy tail, which lives in the forests of tropical Africa."

squirrel             écureuil Similar to English squirrel.

hedgehog             hérisson Similar to English urchin "street child" and Spanish el erizo.

aardvark             oryctérope

hyrax                daman

hare                 lièvre Similar to Spanish la liebre.

shrew                musaraigne Similar to Spanish la musaraña and English tarmagant "a harsh-tempered or overbearing woman" or a "shrew."

house bat            chauve-souris

crocodile            crocodile, caïman Same as English crocodile, similar to English caiman.

chameleon            caméléon Similar to English chameleon.

agama lizard         lézard Similar to English lizard.

gecko                gecko, salamandre  Same as English gecko and similar to English salamander.

monitor lizard       iguane Similar to English iguana.

toad                 crapaud Similar to English creep "a contemptible or detestable person (used as a general term of abuse)" or "a toad."

frog                 grenouille

tortoise             tortue Similar to English tortoise and Spanish tortuga

snake                serpent Same as English serpent and Spanish el serpente

cobra                cobre Similar to English cobra.

python               python Same as English python.

fish                 poisson Similar to Spanish el pes.

bird                 oiseau

chicken              poule Similar to Spanish el pollo.

cock                 coq Similar to English cock.

guinea-fowl          pintade

vulture              vautour Similar to English vulture.

hawk                 épervier Similar to Spanish el esparaván and English spavin "disorder of a horse's hock" "disease that makes a horse raise the infirm leg in the manner of a sparrow hawk."

English              Français

owl                  hibou Similar to Spanish el buho and same as English hibou "owl, specifically, those species of owls with ear tufts."

bush-fowl            perdrix Similar to Spanish el perdiz "partridge, quail."

scorpion             scorpion Same as English scorpion.

butterfly            papillon Borrowed into English as Papillon "main character in a movie about a criminal with a butterfly tattoo."

mosquito             moustique Similar to English mosquito.

spider               araignée Similar to English arachnid.

mason-wasp           guêpe-maçonne Similar to Spanish el mason.

bee                  abeille Similar to Spanish la abeja.

housefly             mouche Similar to Spanish la mosca.

louse                pou

termite              fourmi blanche Similar to English blanched "white" and Spanish hormiga blanco "white ant."

flying ant           fourmi volante Similar to Spanish la hormiga and same as Spanish volante.

locust               locuste Similar to English locust.

mantis               kindi

oil                  huile Similar to English oil .      
fat                  graisse Similar to English grease.

salt                 sel Similar to English salt and Spanish sal.

soup/sauce           sauce Same as English sauce.

food                 nourriture Similar to English nutrition "food that sustains life."

beer                 bière Similar to English beer.

handle               manche d’outil Similar to English manual, "work done with one's hands" and utility, "something useful," and Spanish mano, hand and util utensil, or "hand utensil," handle.

sickle               faucille

fruit harvester      hameçon de fruit Same as English fruit and similar to Spanish la fruta and English cutlery "knives, etc. for the kitchen," or "fruit knife."

firewood knife       couteau de bois de feu Similar to Spanish el bosque "forest," el fuego "fire" "fire-forest or firewood," and English cutlery "knives, etc. for the kitchen," or "fire-forest knife."

harvesting knife     couteau de moisson Similar to English cutlery "knives, etc. for the kitchen."

cutlass              machette Similar to English machete.

iron                 fer Similar to Spanish fierro and English ferruginous "containing iron oxides or rust."

big axe              hache grande Similar to English hatchet "small ax" and grand "large, big" "grand-hatchet or large hatchet" and Spanish grande.

adze                 herminette

hoe                  houe Similar to English hoe.

knife                couteau Similar to English cutlery "knives, etc. for the kitchen."

razor                rasoir Similar to English razor.
anvil                enclume

hammer               marteau Similar to Spanish el martillo.

pincers              pinces Similar to English pinchers.

awl                  alène Similar to Spanish la lesna.

tweezers             tire l’épine

bellows              soufflet, Similar to Spanish soplar, to blow, or "object that blows a lot of air."

cooling bowl         bol d’eau Similar to English bowl.

broom                balaie

bag                  sac Similar to English sack and Spanish saca.

English              Français

fireplace            foyer Same as English foyer "front part of a house before you go in."

shoe                 chaussure

hat                  chapeau Similar to English cap "a kind of soft, flat hat, typically with a visor."

necklace             collier Similar to English collar "part of a shirt that goes around the neck as a necklace does."

ring                 bague

bracelet             bracelet Same as English bracelet.

mortar               mortier Similar to English mortar.

pestle               pilon

pot                  pot Same as English pot.

head-pad             coussinet

basket               panier Similar to Spanish pan "bread" for "object to hold bread in."

sieve                crible

mat                  natte Similar to English matte.

needle               aiguille Similar to Spanish la augila.

spear                lance Same as English lance.  

arrow                flèche Similar to Spanish la flecha and English flechette and Spanish flechita "a type of ammunition resembling a small dart, shot from a gun."

quiver               carquois

rope                 corde Similar to English cord, "a rope-like object made of something other than twine."

stool                tabouret Similar to Spanish el taburete.

door                 porte Similar to English portal.

door-frame           seuil

bed                  lit

fence                clôture Similar to English closure.

ladder               échelle Similar to Spanish la escalera and English escalator "moving stairs that take you upwards."

canoe                 pirogue Similar to Spanish pagaya.

paddle                pagaie Similar to Spanish pagaya, "canoe."

bee-hive              ruche

Musical instruments   Instruments de Musique                               

English               Français
drum                  tambour Similar to English tambourine "type of drum."

hollow logs           blocs de bois Similar to English blocks amf Spanish bosque "forest, "a 'block' (log) of 'forest' (wood)."

flute                 flûte traversière   Similar to English flute and Spanish la fluta.

whistle               sifflet

rattle                hochet calebasse, Similar to Spanish calabassa, melon. A rattle has a small melon-shaped object at the top that contains the rattling objects.

transverse horn       corne Similar to Spanish cuerno transversal.

Numbers               Nombres 

English               Français

one                   un Similar to English one and Spanish uno.

three                 trois Similar to English three and Spanish tres.

four                  quatre Similar to English quarter and Spanish quatro.

five                  cinq Similar to Spanish cinco.

six                   six Same as English six and Spanish seis.

eight                 huit Similar to English eight.

nine                  neuf Similar to Spanish nuevo.

ten                   dix Similar to English decimal and Spanish diez.

eleven                onze Similar to Spanish once.

twelve                douze Similar to Spanish doce.

twenty                vingt Similar to Spanish viente.

twenty-one            vingt et un Similar to Spanish viente uno.

thirty                trente Similar to Spanish triente. 

forty                 quarante Similar to Spanish cuarenta.

fifty                 cinquante Similar to Spanish cinqueta.

sixty                 soixante Similar to Spanish sesenta.

seventy               soixante-dix

eighty                quatre-vingt

ninety                quatre-vingt-dix

one hundred           cent Similar to English centennial, "one hundred-year anniversary celebration" and Spanish ciento.

Colors                Coluers

English               Français

white                 blanc Similar to English blank "nothing, absence of color" and Spanish blanco.

black                 noir Similar to English "film noir or "dark film."

red                   rouge Same as English rouge "red-like color" and Spanish rojo.

green                 vert Similar to Spanish verde and English verdant "green landscape."

yellow                jaune Similar to English jaundiced "aspect of liver disease causing your eyes and skin to become yellow."


English               Français

heavy                 lourd Similar to Spanish lerdo "dull, dumb, dim, oafish, heavy, fatheaded."

light                 léger Similar to Spanish ligero.

large                 grand Same as English grand and Spanish grande.

small                 petit Similar to English petite "small in a cute way" and petty "trivial, small, insignificant."

many                  beaucoup/nombreux Same as English beaucoup.

few                   peu Similar to Spanish poco.

all                   tout Similar to English and Spanish total.

thin                  mince Similar to English mince "chop into thin pieces" and "speak sparingly (use 'thin' words)."

wide                  large Similar to English largesse "large quantity of something which is quite wide in shape."

narrow                étroit Similar to English straight "narrow body of water between two water bodies."

hard                  dur Similar to English durable "lasting" and Spanish duro.

soft                   doux/tendre Similar to English dulcimer "sweet sound," and Spanish dulce/azucar, "sugar," and English tender "soft, sensitive, gentle."

sweet                  doux/sucré de Similar to English dulcimer "sweet sound" and Spanish dulce/azucar, "sugar" and English sugar.

bitter                 amer Similar to Spanish amargo.
sour                   acide Similar to English acid and same as Spanish acide.

deep                   profond Similar to English profound and Spanish profundo "deep thought."

long                   long Same as English long.

short                  court Similar to English short, curt "short abrupt comment" and Spanish cortar "to cut something down to a lower level."

good                   bon Similar to Spanish bueno and same as English bon in "bon apetit".

bad                    mauvais

dirty                  sale Similar to English to soil "to make something dirty."

fat                    gros Similar to English gross "large quantity."

near                   proche/près Similar to English approach "to go towards something near to you" and English presently, "soon, a nearby object to be arrived at shortly."

far                    loin/lointain Similar to Spanish lejano.

beautiful              beau Similar to English beautiful and Spanish bonito.

ugly                   laid, vilain Similar to English villain "criminal, bad person."

hot                    chaud

cold                   froid, frais Similar to English freeze "to turn to ice" and Spanish frio.

strong                 fort Same as English fort and Spanish forte, "a strongly built building for protection from invaders." 

weak                   faible Similar to English feeble.

ripe                   mûr Similar to Spanish maduro and English mature "full grown."

unripe                 cruvert

full                   plein Similar to English plenty.

empty                  vide Similar to English void "nothingness, the state of something emptied of all contents."

Verbs                  Verbes

English                Français 

accompany              accompagner Similar to English to accompany.

add to                 ajouter

announce               annoncer Similar to English to announce and Spanish anunciar.

answer                 répondre Similar to English to respond and Spanish responder.

arrive                 arriver Similar to English to arrive.

ask for                demander Similar to English to demand and Spanish demander.

be born                naître Similar to English Nativity and Spanish Natividad, "holiday celebrating the birth of Christ."

beat                   battre Similar to English to beat or batter.

begin                  commencer Similar to English to commence and Spanish comencer.

bite                   mordre Similar to Spanish mordita "a little bite, bribe," and morder, morderura "bite" and English mordacity "bite, sharpness, poignancy, pungency."

blow (mouth)           souffler (la bouche) Similar to Spanish boca and soplar and English to buss "kiss" and souffle "a low murmuring or blowing sound heard through a stethoscope."

blow (wind)            souffler (vent) Similar to English to vent "to rant angrily or speak in a loud and windy fashion" and "opening to let in air,"   souffle "a low murmuring or blowing sound heard through a stethoscope," and Spanish vientre and soplar.

borrow                 emprunter

braid                  tresser Similar to English tresses and Spanish trasero "tail," as in "'tails' of one's hair."

break                  casser Similar to Spanish cesar and English cease, "cease, stop, end, terminate, break, let up."

breathe                respirer Similar to English to respire and Spanish respirar.

bring                  apporter Similar to English to port "to bring something from one place to another."

build                  construire Similar to English to construct and Spanish construir.

burn                   brûler Similar to English brulee "foods that are sprinkled with sugar and placed under a broiler to caramelize or burn the sugar, forming a hard brittle top" to boil "a way to cook food" and brule Canadian English "an area of burned over woodland.."

bury                   enterrer Similar to English to inter and Spanish interrar.

buy                    acheter Same as Spanish acheter "buy, purchase, take, cover, buy over, nobble."

call                   appeler Similar to English appelation "what you are called" and Spanish apellido "given name or what you are called."

carry on back          porter sur le dos Similar to English to port and dorsal "pertaining to the back."

chew                   mâcher Similar to English to mash "to grind something to a powder or gruel" and English masticate and Spanish masticar "to chew food."

choose                 choisir Similar to English to choose.

chop down              abattre Similar to English abbatoir "slaughterhouse" "place where animals are 'chopped down' or killed," also abbattrer in French also means to slaughter, and Spanish abatir "bring down, cast down, demolish, beat down."

chop/slice             trancher Similar to English tranche "a part of something" or "something chopped off as a piece of something else."

close                  fermer

comb                   se peigner Same as Spanish piegner.

come                   venir Same as Spanish venir.

cook                   cuisiner Similar to English cuisine "cooked food" and Spanish cosinar.

count                  compter Same as Spanish compter "count, expect, include, reckon, number, score,"  and similar to English computer and compute "determine (the amount or number of something) mathematically", i.e. to count.

cover                  couvrir Similar to English to cover and Spanish cubrir.

crawl                  ramper

cry out                crier Similar to English town crier "one who cries out the news" and cry "shout or scream, typically to express fear, pain, or grief."

cut with axe           couper Similar to English to chop and coup "to cut off the 'head' of the government."

dance                  danser Similar to English to dance and Spanish danzer.

desire                 désirer Similar to English to desire and Spanish desear "want, wish, desire, wish for, long for, covet."

die                    mourir Similar to English mortal, mortician "to be doomed to death and one who prepares the dead for observation at funerals and disposal by burying or incineration" and Spanish morir.

dig                    creuser/labourer

divide                 diviser Similar to English to divide and Spanish dividir.

do                     faire

draw water             puiser

dream                  rêver Similar to English reverie "a dream."

drink                  boire

drive away             chasser/éloigner/repousser Similar to English to chase "to run after 'run of', repossess, or "to take an stolen object from someone to 'drive away' with it.'"

drop                   laisser tomber Similar to Spanish tumbar "overthrow, topple, tumble, drop" and English to tumble.

dry up                 sécher Similar to Spanish seco "dry" and Spanish secar.

eat                    manger Similar to English to munch. 

enter                  entrer Similar to English to enter and Spanish entrar.

extinguish             éteindre

fall                   tomber Similar to English to tumble Spanish tumbar "overthrow, topple, tumble, drop."

fill                   remplir Similar to English replenish and Spanish reemplazar "to replace, supersede."

find                   trouver Similar to English treasure "found wealth" and trove "a store of valuable or delightful (found) things."

finish                 terminer Similar to English to terminate and Spanish terminar.

fly (v.)               voler (oiseaux/avion) Same as Spanish voler.

fold                   plier Similar to Spanish plegar.

follow                 suivre

forbid                 interdire Similar to English to interdict and Spanish interdecir "to seize forbidden goods at a border."

forget                 oublier

gather                 réunir Similar to English to reunite and same as Spanish reunir.

give                   donner Similar to English to donate and Spanish donar.

give birth             accoucher Similar to Archaic English accouchement "the act of giving birth."

go                     aller 

go down                descendre Similar to English to descend and Spanish descender.

go out                 sortir Similar to English sortie "a military action in which besieged troops burst forth from their position."

go up                  monter Similar to English mountain and Spanish monter "mount, climb, ride, rise, go up, ascend."

greet                  saluer Similar to English to salute and Spanish saludar

grill                  griller Similar to English to grill and Spanish el grill "a grill, something to grill food on."

grind                  broyer Similar to Archaic English to bray "to crush."

grow/increase          grandir/croître Similar to English grand and Spanish grande "large."

hear                   entendre Similar to Spanish entender "to understand, grasp, realize, comprehend, get, believe."

help                   aider Similar to Spanish ayudar and English to aid.

hide                   cacher Similar to English cache and Spanish el cache "a collection of items of the same type stored in a (hidden) or inaccessible place." 

hold                   tenir Similar to English tenuous "shaky hold" and Spanish tener "to have" or to 'hold in one's hand.'

insult                 insulter Similar to English to insult and Spanish insultar "insult, abuse, taunt, affront, slight."

jump                   sauter Similar to Spanish saltar and English somersault "to jump in the air and do a 360 turn with your body so you land on your feet."

kill                   tuer

know                   savoir Similar to Spanish saber and English savoir-faire "the ability to act or speak appropriately in social situations" or to know how to talk smoothly and properly.

laugh                  rire Similar to Spanish reir.

learn                  étudier/apprendre Similar to English to study "to work at learning something," to apprehend "to understand," and Spanish estudiar "to work at learning something", aprender.

lend                   prêter Similar to Spanish prestar.

lick                   lécher Similar to English to lick and Spanish leche "milk" (that is consumed by licking it up as a cat does).

lie                    mentir Similar to Spanish mentiro "a lie" and mentir.

lie down               être étendu Similar to Spanish estar tendido.

lift onto head         soulever

light                  allumer Similar to English to illuminate and Spanish iluminar "make (something) visible or bright by shining light on it; light up."

like/love              aimer Similar to Spanish amar and English amiable "friendly, warm person."

limp                   boiter

listen                 écouter Similar to Spanish escucher.

look                   regarder Similar to English to regard "to look over" and Spanish regarder "to consider or think of (someone or something) in a specified way" - to "look over" the person and think about them.

look for               chercher Similar to English to search.

lose                   perdre Similar to Spanish perder and English perdition "that which is lost."

marry                  épouser Similar to English spouse "married partner" and Spanish esposa "wife."

measure                mesurer Similar to English to measure and Spanish mesura "measuring glass."

milk                   traire

mix                    mélanger Similar to English melange "a chaotic mixture of things."

open                   ouvrir Similar to Spanish abrir.

peel                   éplucher Similar to Spanish pelar and English to peel.

pick up                ramasser Similar to English amass "gather together (pick up) or accumulate (a large amount or number of valuable" material or things) over a period of time.

pierce                 percer Similar to English to pierce.

plaster                crépir

play                   jouer Similar to Spanish jugar.

pound                  piler

pour                   verser tumbere Similar to English tumbler "a drinking glass with straight sides and no handle or stem" - something that drinks are poured into.

pull                   tirer Similar to Spanish tirar.

push                   pousser Similar to English to push.

put                    poser/placer Similar to Spanish placer "to place."

put                    mettre Similar to Spanish meter "to put, insert, place, shove, dip, thrust."

rain                   pleuvoir Similar to Spanish lluvia "rain."

receive/accept         recevoir/accepter Similar to English to receive/accept and Spanish recibir/aceptar.

refuse                 refuser Similar to English to refuse.

remember               se souvenir Similar to English souvenir or "memento," an object one has to remember an occasion in the past.

resemble               ressembler Similar to English to resemble and Spanish resemblar.

return                 revenir Similar to English revenue "returns on an investment."

ride                   monter un animal Similar to English to mount an animal (horse) "in order to ride it."

rub                    frotter Similar to English frottage "the act of rubbing up against someone."

run                    courir Similar to Spanish correr.

say                    dire Similar to Spanish decir.

see                    voir Similar to Spanish ver.

sell                   vendre Similar to English vendor "one who sells" and Spanish vender.

send                   envoyer Similar to English envoy "missionary sent to another."

sew                    coudre Similar to Spanish encuadernar "to bind, sew" and English accoutrements "additional items of dress made by sewing things."

shake                  secouer Similar to Spanish sacudir.

sharpen                aiguiser Similar to Spanish aguzar.

shave                  se raser Similar to English razor "object to shave with."

shoot                  tirer Similar to Spanish tirar.

show                   montrer Similar to Spanish mostrar and English to demonstrate.

sing                   chanter Similar to English to chant "sing in a rhythmic and hypnotic way" and Spanish cantar.

sit down               s'asseoir/être assis

sleep                  dormir Same as Spanish and similar to English dormitory "place for many to sleep."

smell                  sentir Similar to English scent.

sneeze                 éternuer Similar to Spanish estornudar and English tornado, extreme storm in the atmosphere with high winds 'sneezes.'

snore                  ronfler

soak                   faire

sow                    semer Similar to Spanish semilla "seed" and English and Spanish sinsemilla, "without seeds" or "a type of high grade marijuana grown without seeds."

spit                   cracher

stay                   rester Similar to English to rest.

steal                  voler

stick onto             coller Similar to English to collocate "to group together or 'stick onto each other' with documents."

sting                  piquer Similar to Spanish picar and English to pique "to 'sting' or to hurt one's feelings."

stroll                 se promener Similar to English to promenade

suck                   sucer/téter Similar to English to suck. and teat "breast"

swallow                avaler

sweep                  balayer

swell                  gonfler

swim                   nager

take                   prendre Similar to Spanish prender "turn on, catch, take, arrest, apprehend, capture" and English apprehend "to catch a criminal and 'take' him into custody."

take off               ôter

taste                  goûter Similar to Spanish gustar "like, taste, love, please, appeal, appeal to" and English disgust "'not' pleasing or tasteful."

teach                  enseigner Similar to Spanish ensenar.

tear                   déchirer Similar to Spanish deshacer "undo, break, unpack, break up, tear, smash."

tell                   raconter Similar to English raconteur "storyteller."

think                  penser Similar to English pensive "person who is thinking deeply" and Spanish pensar.

throw                  jeter

tie                    nouer/attacher Similar to English to attach, "to connect or 'tie' one thing to another."

touch                  toucher Similar to English to touch.

tremble                trembler Similar to English to tremble.
try                    essayer Similar to Spanish ensayar "test, rehearse, try, assay, try out, try over" and English to essay and Archaic English to assay.

turn over              se retourner Similar to English to turn.

twist                  tordre Similar to Spanish torcedura "twist, sprain, strain, rick."

undress                se déshabiller Similar to English habit "priest's clothes."

unfold                 déplier Similar to Spanish desplegar English to deploy and to display "to deploy, display, unfold, expand, open, unfurl."

untie                  dénouer/détacher Similar to English to detach "remove something that had been part of something else."

urinate                uriner Similar to English to urinate.

vomit                  vomir Similar to English to vomit.

wait                   attendre Similar to English to attend "to wait on."

walk                   marcher Similar to English to march "walk in an organized way."

want/need              vouloir/avoir besoin Similar to English volition "forward movement in time towards what one needs."

wash s.t.              laver Similar to Spanish laver and English lavatory "bathroom, places where one 'washes up.'"

weave                  tisser Similar to Spanish textura "texture, weave" and English texture, "the feeling an 'woven, sewn' or otherwise created object in one's hands."

weed                   sarcler/arracher les herbes Similar to English herbs and Spanish sachar "to weed, hoe" and arranchar "to tear, pull, pluck, tear off, pull up, extract."

whisper                chuchoter Similar to Spanish cuchichear "to whisper, buzz."

whistle                siffler

wipe (nose)            se moucher

write                  écrire Similar to Spanish escribir and English scribe "one who writes", to inscribe "to write on a hard surface."

yawn                   bâiller

Q words                Questions

English                Français


when?                  quand Similar to Spanish cuando.

how?                   comment Similar to Spanish como.

how many?              combien

why?                   pourquoi Similar to Spanish porque.

who?                   qui Similar to Spanish quien.

what?                  quoi Similar to Spanish que.

Others                 Autres

English                Français

here                   ici Similar to Spanish acqui.

there                   Similar to Spanish alla.

left                   à gauche Similar to English gauche "rude, ill-informed."

right                  à droite Similar to Spanish derecho.

north                  nord Similar to English north and Spanish norte.

south                  sud Similar to English south and same as Spanish sud.

east                   est Similar to English east and Spanish este.

west                   ouest Similar to English west and Spanish oeste.


English                Français 

I, me                  je, moi Similar to Spanish yo and similar to English me and Spanish mi and mine and Spanish mio, "belonging to me."

you                    toi Similar to English thou and Spanish tu "informal form of you," Archaic in English.

he, she, it            lui, elle Similar to Spanish el, ella, lo, and la.

we, us                 nous Similar to Spanish nosotros and nuestro "ours."

you pl.                vous Same as Spanish  voz.

they, them             ils Similar to Spanish ellos, ellas.

everyone               tout le monde Similar to English total "everything" and Spanish todo el mundo.


English                Français

Cassava                manioc Same as English manioc.

Sweet potato           patate douce Similar to English potato and Spanish dulce and pata "sweet" and "potato."

Wild yam               igname de brousse Similar to English yam.

Sorghum                grand mil "big millet." Similar to English millet.

Bullrush               petit mil "small millet." Similar to English millet.

Fonio                  fonio Same as English fonio.

Maize                  mais Similar to English maize and Spanish maiz.

Rice                   riz Similar to English rice.

groundnut              pois de terre Similar to English peas and terrain "ground" or "ground peas" and Spanish tierra "land, ground."

Groundnut              arachide

Tiger-nut              souche à manger "a nut to eat"

Nutgrass               souche à parfum Similar to English perfume and Spanish el perfume "pleasant scent," a "nut with a pleasant scent."

Garden egg (eggplant)  aubergine Similar to Spanish berenjena and same as English aubergine.

Okra                   gombo Similar to English gumbo "dish made with okra."

Birdseye chili         piment Similar to English pimento. 


English                Français

Onion                  oignon Similar to English onion.

Garlic                 ail Similar to Spanish ajo.

Tomato                 tomate Similar to English tomato and Spanish la tomata.

Melon (other)          courge

Kenaf                  kenaf Same as English kenaf.

Sesame seeds           sesam Similar to English sesame.

Gourd (Generic)        calebasse Similar to Spanish calabaza.

Gourd-bottle           bouteille Similar to English bottle and Spanish botela, "a gourd with a bottle shape."

warty gourd            calebasse à furoncles Similar to English and Spanish furuncles "boils" or 'warts.'

gourd spoon, ladle     louche 

Other gourds           autres calebasses Similar to Spanish otros and English other and Spanish calabazas.

Cotton                 coton Similar to English cotton.

Fan-palm               rônier

Baobab                 arbre de pain  Similar to Spanish abrol "tree" and pan "bread" or "bread tree".

Shea tree              karité

Locust tree            néré

Acacia                 acacia Same as English and Spanish acacia.

Tamarind               tamarinier Similar to English tamarind
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3 thoughts on “A Look at How Many French Words Have English and Spanish Cognates”

  1. I was trying to lookup a dish an Asian coworker made today. No luck but I found these French words:

    Putain – dirty woman

    Putain de merde – whore of shit.

    1. Yes I know those two words, LOL.

      Putain may very well be related to “pussy” LOL. I’d have to look it up but I wouldn’t be surprised.

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