First, let me share some thoughts about Jesus in French : how do you pronounce “Jésus” and “Christ” in French ? Is Jésus a common French name ? Do we use it to swear?
1 – How do You Say Jesus in French?
The most common French translation for Jesus is “Jésus”.
2 – Jesus French Pronunciation
The J is soft as in “je”, so it’s not an English “dj” sound nor a Spanish jota. Note the accent on the é. The middle S being stuck between vowels is pronounced like a Z. The final S is silent.
So it’s pronounced “jézu” in French.
More about French Pronunciation.
3 – Is Jesus a Common French Name?
Jesus is not a common first name in France, unlike Marie which is extremely common as a main first name.
In France, you have several given names: mine for example are Camille (main, usual one), Anne (Name of my grandmother on my mother side), Hélène (Name of my great-grandmother on my mother side), Marie (because my family is Catholic).
It is extremely common to include a Marie in the list of names for woman as well as for man in French Catholic families.
Note also that men sometimes have a composed first name which includes the name Marie : Jean-Marie.
4 – French Synonyms for Jesus
- Le Christ – Christ
- Le Messie – Messiah
- Le Sauveur – Savior
- Le Fils – the Son – or Le Fils de Dieu – Son of God
- Le Rédempteur – Savior
- Jésus-Christ, J.C. – Jesus Christ
5 – How do you Pronounce the Word Christ in French?
Note that there is a strange pronunciation situation here. When “Christ” is used by itself, the final S and T are pronounced.
However, often when it is combined as in “Jésus-Christ”, the S and T become silent.
I have no idea why, but it’s a fact. You can hear this during my recording of the French Catholic mass.
6 – The French Don’t Just Say “Jesus”
It’s common in English to hear “Jesus” as an negative exclamation: shock, bad surprise, anger… Or it’s shorter version, “Gee”.
Strangely enough, we don’t use Jesus’ name this way in France. Not just by itself.
7 – The French Don’t Use Christ for a Swear Word, But Canadians Do
We don’t use “Christ” as a swear word in France, although it is commonly used as a swear word in Québec, either as “Christ” or as “Criss” – it’s a pretty big swear word, so don’t use it!
8 – Le Jésus (de Lyon) = A French Sausage!
There is a famous Lyon’s sausage called “Jesus”: it’s a sort of thick salami. Maybe “Le Jésus” was named this way because it is a speciality which is served around Christmas time.
- Pendant mon voyage à Lyon, j’ai mangé un Jésus : avec une baguette et un peu de beurre, il était délicieux.
During my trip to Lyon, I ate a Jesus: with a French loaf and a bit of butter, it was delicious.
And now, let’s see some common French idioms and expressions with Jesus. You will see there are only a few – there are many more French expressions with God.
French Jesus Expression 1 – “Doux Jésus” = Sweet Jesus in French
This expression, we do use. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but possible.
As in English, it’s used to show an emotion: surprise, fear, shock, sometimes joy.
- Doux Jésus : tu n’as rien ? Tu ne t’es pas fait mal ?
Sweet Jesus: are you OK? You didn’t hurt yourself?
French Jesus Expression 2 – “Jésus, Marie, Joseph” = Mary, Jesus and Joseph in French
Here again, French and English share the translation and meanings of this expression.
This one is quite old-fashioned in French, and actually a bit snobbish.
It’s used to show an emotion: surprise, fear, shock, sometimes joy.
- Jésus, Marie, Joseph… Mais qu’est-ce que je vais faire ?
Jesus, Mary, Joseph…. What am I going to do?
French Jesus Expression 3 – “Le Petit Jésus en Culotte de Velours” = French Expression For A Good Wine
The exact origins of this expression are unknown, but it is used around wine, to say the wine is particularly good and silky.
Literally, it translates as “it’s the little (baby) Jesus in velvet pants”.
A variable is “c’est le bon Dieu en culotte de velours qui descend dans l’estomac” – it’s the good Lord in velvet pants who is going down your stomach, or again “le petit Jésus en culotte de soie” – baby Jesus in silk pants.
- Ce vin est rond et soyeux en bouche : c’est le petit Jésus en culotte de velours.
This wine is round and silky in the mouth: it’s such a delight.
French Jesus Expression 4 – “Etre Attendu Comme le Messie” = To be Awaited Like the Messiah
This expression is common, and quite literal. We use it when we have been anxiously awaiting for someone, or simply waiting for someone for a long time.
- Ah! Enfin, te voilà ! On t’attendait comme le Messie.
Ah! Finally here you come! You were awaited like the Messiah
French Jesus Expression 5 – “Mettre Le Petit Jésus dans la Crèche” = To Have Intercourse
Weird and weirder. “Le Petit-Jésus” is a common synonym for men’s genitalia in French. So “to put little Jesus in the manger” is also part of the French sex expressions!!
Far for me to proselytize, but some of you may be interested in my recordings of the French Mass in French, or my easy bilingual learn French in context story about Christmas and how it is celebrated in France today.
If you enjoy learning French in context, check out French Today’s downloadable French audiobooks: French Today’s bilingual novels are recorded at different speeds and enunciation, and focus on today’s modern glided pronunciation.