8

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?

18

"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.

  • 1
    I would also offer some synonyms of Frenchmen — "The French", "Frenchies", "Frogs" (the last one is offensive). – Zoot Jan 19 '11 at 16:04
5

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.

2

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

  • 2
    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
  • 2
    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
-2

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.

  • 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
  • 1
    Chinaman seems to me different from Frenchmen. The exact comparison would be between Chinaman and Franceman. – kiamlaluno Feb 4 '11 at 23:58

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