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New French Words in 2021

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

New words this year describe lifestyle, politics and fake news.

Every year the Le Petit Larousse dictionary releases a new edition with words added to reflect up-to-date usage of the French language. They must already be widely used in French-speaking society before they are formalised in the dictionary.

Although “déconfinement” (the end of lockdown) isn’t among the 150 new words added this year, the 2021 edition does include “hipstérisation”, meaning the transformation of a place upon the arrival of hipsters.

“Influencer” has also made an appearance, as has “zèbre” meaning “a gifted person… who goes beyond the normal expectations of someone described as gifted, high potential or a precocious child”.

“Fugalisme” entails “living below your means and saving money in order to stop working before the legal retirement age, at around 35 years old, with the objective of removing yourself from consumerist society". This sits well alongside “lagom”, a Swedish lifestyle philosophy prioritising simplicity, the natural world, and moderation.

Danish “hygge” (a mood of cosiness, comfort, wellness, and contentment) has also been added.

The word “antivax”, describing a popular movement opposed to certain vaccines or vaccinations, is another new addition for 2021.

Many new political words have also been included in the 2021 edition, such as “dégagisme” which describes the state of either not voting or revolting as a means of rejecting and rebelling against the powerful, without wanting to take their place. Meanwhile, and perhaps OGN's favourite, “gréviculture” describes an “almost systematic tendency to go on strike… as a preamble to any dialogue or negotiation".

An “illibéral” is someone opposed to liberal principles such as the separation of power, independence of justice, the rule of law and individual liberty.

New word “Infox” is a play on words combining the French word for news, “infos”, and the word “faux” or false, to refer to fake news.


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