"frog" for "French"/"Frenchman"

Mark Kronauer: What is the origin of the word "frog" when used as a slang term for "French" or "Frenchman"?
Terry O'Connor: English people and French people have long been enemies, culturally, militarily and commercially. In fact the two countries have almost been at war more often than at peace. (Well, not really, but it sometimes seems that way when you browse the history books.) So insults between the two nations are common. The French have described the English as a nation of shopkeepers and the English have described the French as a nation of frog-eaters. So, boil it down over the years and "frog-eaters" becomes frogs or froggies. N'est pas?
RICHARD YOUNG: The story I heard was that this term dated from the middle ages, when the French flag had a blue background with gold fleur-de-lys on it. The ignorant English, not knowing that the fleur-de-lys was supposed to be a flower, though that it represented a gold frog. Hence "frog" became a derogatory term for the French.


Return to the Archive Index
Return to the Word for Word articles
Return to the BrisMail Home page