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
Enfantin Vient de   Baby Talk Normal
  
areu areu     goo goo, ga ga
   * faire areu areu – to gurgle
      Already working on that French R!  🙂
         
le bibi biberon     bottle
         
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
  
le coco coquille     egg
         
coucou       hi
   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!
  
le doudou dormir blankie blanket
  
le joujou jouet toy
    * faire joujou – to play
  
le lolo le lait milk
    Note: les lolos is also a familiar term for breasts
  
mama maman   mommy mom
         
la mamie, mamy
la mémé
grand-mère granny grandma
  
la menotte la main hand
    Note: les menottes are handcuffs
  
miam-miam manger yum yum eating, food
  
le minou minet   kitty cat
   Note: also a familiar but not vulgar word for female genitals
         
la nounou nourrice     nanny
         
le nounours ours en peluche teddy teddy bear
  
papa père   daddy dad
         
le panpan spanking
    * faire panpan – to spank
  
la papatte la patte leg, hand
  
le papi, papy
le pépé
grand-père gramps granddad
  
le pipi pee pee urine
    * faire pipi – to pee, to go number 1 (used by adults, too)
  
popo     poop feces
         
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
  
la tata
la tatie
tante auntie aunt
  
le tonton oncle uncle
  
la toto auto car
le toto head lice
   * avoir des totos – to have lice
  
le toutou doggy dog
  
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

 French lessons

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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!