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How to Say ‘Orgasm’ in French, and Other Handy Expressions

Musician Beth Ditto shares her favorite foreign language phrase.

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Favorite word or phrase in a language not your own?

I choose the French language because it's one of the only ones I know a little, and the one that I butcher the least when I try to speak it. There are two expressions I particularly love. One is “la petite mort,” which I think is really beautiful. “The little death,” which is, of course, the French term for orgasm. It's just the most beautiful expression for something that is pretty but kind of gross.

The other thing that I love to say so much in French is something I love just screaming it out of nowhere — no matter where I am. In the Louvre, why not? The Champs-Élysées, come on! I love to scream, “Je paie avec mon sang!”, which means, “I pay with my blood!” To me, it's the new “zut alors!” (“damn!”). I just think it’s very funny, mostly because I like to think of myself as a French comedian. Honk, Honk, Waka, Waka. You can't see me right now, but I'm actually trying to get out of an invisible box.

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Our Contributors

Beth Ditto

Beth Ditto is a musician, actor, and craft aficionado. She is best known as the longtime lead singer for The Gossip.

Victoria Rosselli Illustrator

Victoria Rosselli is a multidisciplinary creative and consultant based in Brooklyn, New York, operating in media. She specializes in art direction and design for brand, film and editorial.

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