Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I was just reading a news article about a couple of French men and was wondering what (if any) the difference between that and Frenchmen is?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 17 down vote accepted

"Frenchmen" could refer to French people collectively, including French women. For example:

National Stereotypes in Perspective: Americans in France, Frenchmen in America [1]

It seems that many lower-class Englishmen still harbour a Napoleonic dislike of Frenchmen [2]

It can, of course, also refer to any smaller group of French persons:

Where would you take a couple of Frenchmen [in L.A. area]? [3]

"French men" refers just to men from France (all of them or a specific group, depending on context), but not women. Example:

French men are three times more likely than French women to kill themselves [4]

I think that is the principal difference.

So, in the context of a news article about a couple of people, using "French men" at least makes it clear right away that all of them were men. Using "Frenchmen" would have left that unspecified.

share|improve this answer
    
I would also offer some synonyms of Frenchmen — "The French", "Frenchies", "Frogs" (the last one is offensive). –  Zoot Jan 19 '11 at 16:04

Frenchman means a person, especially a man, who is French by birth or descent (New Oxford American Dictionary); a French man is a man who is from France.

share|improve this answer

Basically a French man is a Frenchman and vice-versa, so the meaning is the same. Stylistically the word Frenchman seems a little old-fashioned. It's something I would avoid using, perhaps because it is associated with unacceptable terms like Chinaman for Chinese man.

share|improve this answer
2  
I think this is more of a square/rectangle situation: All French men are Frenchmen, but not all Frenchmen are French men. I do, however, agree with your point about the subtle insult that could be implied by using the term Frenchmen. –  e.James Sep 4 '10 at 5:17
    
Chinaman seems to me different from Frenchmen. The exact comparison would be between Chinaman and Franceman. –  kiamlaluno Feb 4 '11 at 23:58

A Frenchman could mean a French ship. That seems an odd usage since ships are usually referred to as 'she', but there you are.

share|improve this answer
1  
Wiktionary says it also means "A home-made tool used by bricklayers to cut excess mortar from newly pointed brickwork" but doesn't mention the ship definition. –  delete Sep 3 '10 at 7:15
1  
And a red-legged partridge, too. You learn something new every day. Thanks for the suggestion, Shinto; I've bookmarked Wiktionary now. –  Brian Hooper Sep 3 '10 at 9:42

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.