For centuries, there’s been no official French word for the sloppy Gallic export “to French kiss” — though that certainly hasn’t stopped any citizen from doing so.
Now the oversight has been rectified.
The one-word verb “galocher” — to kiss with tongues — is among new entries added to the “Petit Robert” 2014 French dictionary, which hit the shops Thursday.
It may surprise many that France — a country famed for its amorous exploits and which gave the world sex-symbol Brigitte Bardot, romantic photographer Robert Doiseau and even scandal-hit former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn — is only just linguistically embracing the popular pastime.
Yet Laurence Laporte of the Robert publishing house says that it’s just the way language evolves.
“We always had many expressions to describe ‘French-kissing,’ like ‘kissing at length in the mouth,’ but it’s true, we’ve never had one single word,” she said.
The term “French kiss” — once also called a “Florentine kiss” — is popularly considered to have been brought back to the English-speaking world by soldiers returning from Europe after World War I. At the time, the French had a reputation for more adventurous sexual practices.
Laporte said “galocher” was a slang term that’s been around for a while “but only now is it being officially recognized in a French dictionary.”
“La galoche” is an ice-skating boot, so the new term riffs evocatively on the idea of sliding around the ice.
The word expert added a caveat about the power of language. The lack of a specific term “never stopped us from doing it,” Laporte noted.