I need another way to label a cheval de frise for my book. The problem is, the story takes place in a fantasy setting that neither contains the French language, nor Frisians.

  • 1
    Most likely the reason you'll find cheval-de-frise in English dictionaries is we don't have a word for it. Are you going to avoid all Latin-derived words in your story, if the Roman Empire never existed within the fictional setting? Mar 1, 2020 at 15:42
  • So call it a horse-thorn hedge (can't call it a fence, that's got French roots too). Mar 1, 2020 at 15:55
  • My dictionary suggests "portable obstacle".
    – GEdgar
    Mar 1, 2020 at 16:21
  • 2
    If your fantasy setting does not contain the French language, it does not contain the English language. English is just German with no grammar and French vocabulary. Luckily, precisely because it's a fantasy setting, you're not limited to stealing words from the French. Nobody says you can't borrow cheval-de-frise from Ukrainian or Japanese instead. Or the completely made up nation of Chnerf. Or you could just coin a word all of your own, you know.
    – RegDwigнt
    Mar 1, 2020 at 16:50
  • @GEdgar very funny. (Though for the benefit of others maybe we do have to spell out that both portable and obstacle are French words as well.)
    – RegDwigнt
    Mar 1, 2020 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


The English for "cheval-de-frise" is "cheval-de-frise". See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cheval-de-frise.

From “Crusade of the Excelsior” By Bret Harte

At its lower extremity a tall hedge of cactus reinforced the crumbling wall with a cheval de frise of bristling thorns; it was through a gap in this green barrier that he had found his way a few hours before, as his torn clothes still testified. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2471/2471-h/2471-h.htm

The vocabulary of the military was often borrowed from French (or Norman French) as historically it had been the Norman army that had conquered England and built castles, etc. and thereafter French speaking nobles who ruled, raised armies, and administered.

Army, soldier, cannon, cavalry, canon, mote; bailey, keep; castle; fort; trench, battle, battlement, portcullis, rampart, charge, attack, etc are all of French derivation or borrowed directly.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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