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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?

4 Answers 4

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"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.

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    I would also offer some synonyms of Frenchmen — "The French", "Frenchies", "Frogs" (the last one is offensive).
    – Zoot
    Jan 19, 2011 at 16:04
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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.

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

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    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, 2010 at 7:15
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    And a red-legged partridge, too. You learn something new every day. Thanks for the suggestion, Shinto; I've bookmarked Wiktionary now. Sep 3, 2010 at 9:42
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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.

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    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, 2010 at 5:17
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    Chinaman seems to me different from Frenchmen. The exact comparison would be between Chinaman and Franceman.
    – apaderno
    Feb 4, 2011 at 23:58

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