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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|
|Enfantin||Vient de||Baby Talk||Normal|
|areu areu||goo goo, ga ga|
| * faire areu areu – to gurgle|
Already working on that French R! 🙂
|un bobo||owie, boo-boo||wound|
| * avoir bobo – to have an owie, to be hurt|
Note: bobo is also the abbreviation of bourgeois bohème (hipster)
|le caca||cacare (Latin)||poo poo||feces|
|* faire caca – to go number 2|
|Note: also used for peek-a-boo|
|le dada||horsie, gee-gee||horse|
|le dodo||dormir||beddy-bye||go 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!
|* faire joujou – to play|
|le kiki||weenie, peter||penis|
|le lolo||le lait||milk|
|Note: les lolos is also a familiar term for breasts|
|la mamie, mamy|
|la menotte||la main||hand|
|Note: les menottes are handcuffs|
|miam-miam||manger||yum yum||eating, food|
|Note: also a familiar but not vulgar word for female genitals|
|le nounours||ours en peluche||teddy||teddy bear|
|* faire panpan – to spank|
|la papatte||la patte||leg, hand|
| le papi, papy|
|le pipi||pee pee||urine|
|* faire pipi – to pee, to go number 1 (used by adults, too)|
|le prout||le pet||fart||flatulence|
|* faire (un) prout – to fart|
|la quenotte||canne (old Fr)||tooth|
|la risette||rire||little smile|
|faire sisite||s’asseoir||to sit|
|le toto||head lice|
|* avoir des totos – to have lice|
|le zizi||weenie, peter||penis|
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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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)
I know it means “Gypsy” but beyond that I couldn’t say.
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!
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