Battle of the Frenches: Belgium versus France

February 15, 2018 9:42 am

Battle of the frenches

Belgium is a lovely country, where languages play an important role. It has three official languages: French, Dutch and German.

Let’s take a closer look at the French spoken in Belgium. You might think that we speak in the same way as French people, but you would be wrong! Here is a short explanation of the differences you can find in the French spoken in Belgium and France.

The main differences lie in the vocabulary. “Belgicisms” are words or expressions that are unique to “Belgian French”. There are a number of words that are still used in Belgium and not in French, as well as words that mean different things in the two countries. Most Belgian French speakers are aware of these differences and are able to standardize their language when necessary. An example of one such difference is the use of “septante” for seventy and “nonante” for ninety in Belgian French, in contrast to “soixante-dix” and “quatre-vingt dix” in Standard French (note that Swiss French also uses these forms).

Here is a useful and concise list of belgicisms to help you recognise the differences in future:


Metropolitan French


À tantôt À tout à l’heure See you later
Brosser un cours Sécher un cours To skip class
Chicon Endive Chicory, Belgian endive
Divan Canapé Sofa
GSM Téléphone portable Mobile/cell phone
Déjeuner Petit déjeuner To have breakfast
Dîner Déjeuner To have lunch
Souper Dîner To have diner/supper
Serviette Serviette Napkin
Essuie Serviette Towel
Kot Studio Studio
Toquer Frapper To knock
Torchon Serpillère Floor cloth


  • “Belgian French”, Wikipedia, accessible here [14.02.2018]
  • “Belgicism”, Wikipedia, accessible here [14.02.2018]

Written by  Anaïs Gilkin Terminology Trainee at TermCoord, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpreting, an MA in Translation and Terminology Studies and a Master of Science in Education from the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Very interested in international politics, she focused her MA dissertation on Sharia and its impact on Muslim women. She knows French, English, Spanish and a bit of German and Dutch.



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