Baby Talk

French baby talk
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Langage enfantin

French has quite a bit of “baby talk” or “kiddie speak” – words and expressions which are typically used by children (les enfants) or when talking to children or babies (les bébés).

Even if you don’t have any reason to talk to kids in French, this informal language is important to recognize, as baby talk can also be found in jokes and in conversations with friends.

As in English, a lot of French baby talk is just a syllable repeated twice. Click the links to hear each word pronounced.

en français  in English
EnfantinVient de Baby TalkNormal
areu areu  goo goo, ga ga
   * faire areu areu – to gurgle
      Already working on that French R!  🙂
le bibibiberon  bottle
un boboowie, boo-boowound
    * avoir bobo – to have an owie, to be hurt
       Note: bobo is also the abbreviation of bourgeois bohème (hipster)
le cacacacare (Latin)poo poofeces
    * faire caca – to go number 2
le cococoquille  egg
coucou   hi
   Note: also used for peek-a-boo
le dada  horsie, gee-geehorse
le dododormirbeddy-byego to sleep
    * faire dodo – to go to sleep, to be asleep
    * faire un gros/petit dodo – to take a long/short nap
    * Au dodo ! – Go to bed!
le doudoudormirblankieblanket
le joujoujouettoy
    * faire joujou – to play
le kikiweenie, peterpenis
le lolole laitmilk
    Note: les lolos is also a familiar term for breasts
mamamaman mommymom
la mamie, mamy
la mémé
la menottela mainhand
    Note: les menottes are handcuffs
miam-miam mangeryum yumeating, food
le minou minet kittycat
   Note: also a familiar but not vulgar word for female genitals
la nounou nourrice  nanny
le nounoursours en pelucheteddyteddy bear
papapère daddydad
le panpanspanking
    * faire panpan – to spank
la papattela patteleg, hand
le papi, papy
le pépé
le pipipee peeurine
    * faire pipi – to pee, to go number 1 (used by adults, too)
popo  poopfeces
le proutle petfartflatulence
    * faire (un) prout – to fart
la quenottecanne (old Fr)tooth
la risetterire  little smile
faire sisites’asseoirto sit
la tata
la tatie
le tontononcleuncle
la totoautocar
le totohead lice
   * avoir des totos – to have lice
le toutoudoggydog
le ziziweenie, peterpenis

French baby talk expressions

  • caca d’oie – yellow-green
  • en peau de toutou – of mediocre quality
  • métro, boulot, dodo – rat race
  • mon petit doigt m’a dit – a little birdie told me
  • suivre / obéir à qqun comme un toutou – to follow/obey as meekly as a lamb

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French baby talk

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3 Responses

  1. Anita Maki 9 February 2018 / 20:33

    My mother used to play a little game with babies, saying manouche (?) and tap, tap, tap on the baby’s cheeks. I would like to know if anyone could tell me what it means. (translation)

    • lkl 12 February 2018 / 7:08

      I know it means “Gypsy” but beyond that I couldn’t say.

    • James 14 November 2018 / 9:56

      I also only found `gypsy`as a translation, but my wife (we live in Quebec) says it refers to touching or rubbing a baby`s skin, which makes perfect sense given what you describe your mother doing. It can be used between adults, where it loses its innocence, i.e. has a sexual connotation. My wife was quite concerned about why I was asking this particular term, so I hope this helps and was worth the pain and suffering!