false friendfalse friend
A word or phrase in one language that is similar in appearance to a word or phrase in another language but has a different meaning, as French actuel, “current,” and English actual, “real.”
Origin of false friendTranslation of French faux ami : faux, false + ami, friend.
(plural false friends)
- The French nous demandons means "we ask", but to English-speakers it sounds like "we demand", which can turn negotiation into confrontation.
- The Spanish word embarazada means "pregnant", not "embarrassed" "” "Estoy embarazada" means "I am pregnant", not "I am embarrassed".
- The German word will (want) is not a future tense marker "” "Ich will gehen" means "I want to go", not "I will go".
- Same for Dutch and Afrikaans, "Ik wil gaan" and "Ek wil gaan" mean "I want to go".
- The Italian word triviale (vulgar) does not mean trivial, though the two words do share a common Latin root (trivium that in Latin means crossroad) "Questo Ã¨ triviale" means "This is in bad taste", not "This is obvious".
- The Danish (also Swedish) word gift does not mean gift as in present, but can mean a verb form of to marry; Han er gift means He is married. The word for gift is gave, which is close to the past tense of the verb giver. If du gav en gave, you gave a gift. Likewise, if du gav en gift, you actually gave poison.
- attributive form of false friend, noun.
- The false-friend status of the phrase was lost on him.