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French War Vocabulary
Unfortunately, to follow the news in French, this bilingual French English war and military vocabulary may come in handy.

War = La Guerre (not la gare)

La guerre – war.

Watch out for the pronunciation since I hear many students mistake “la gare” (A sound = the train station) with “la guerre” (ay sound).

Peace = La Paix

This weird French word ends in a silent X, and is pronounced like “pay”.

We talk about “des pourparlers de paix”, “des négociations de paix” = peace talks.

French War Vocabulary

  • Un conflit armé – an armed conflict
  • Une déclaration de guerre – a war declaration
  • Un traité de paix – a peace treaty
  • Un armistice – an armistice
  • Un cessez-le-feu – a cease fire
  • Un soldat – a soldier
  • S’engager – to enroll
  • Recruter – to recrute
  • Un ennemi – an enemy
  • Une super puissance – a superpower
  • Un empire – an empire
  • Un combat – a combat
  • Un génocide – a genocide
  • Un massacre – a massacre
  • Un combattant – a fighter
  • Un tirailleur – a rifleman / marksman
  • Envahir – to invade
  • Une invasion – an invasion
  • Une attaque – an attack
  • Un bombardement – a bombing
  • Une bombe – a bomb
  • Une victime – a victim
  • Un blessé – a wounded
  • Un tué – a person who was killed
  • Un mort – a dead person
  • Un amputé – an amputee
  • Une tranchée – a trench
  • Un espion – a spy
  • Un traitre – a traitor
  • Un allié – an ally
  • S’allier avec quelqu’un – to be allied with someone
  • Une alliance – an alliance
  • La victoire – the victory
  • Les vainqueurs, les gagnants – winners
  • Gagner la guerre – to win the war
  • La défaite – the defeat
  • Les perdants – losers
  • Perdre la guerre – to lose the war
  • Se rendre – to surrender
  • Fuir – to flee
  • Une dette de guerre – a war debt

Une arme = a weapon

  • Une arme à feu = a firearm
  • Un revolver, un pistolet = a handgun
  • Une mitrailleuse = a machine gun
  • Une mitraillette = an automatic handgun, a Tommy gun
  • Un fusil = a rifle
  • Une balle = a bullet
  • Tirer sur quelqu’un = to shoot at someone
  • Se faire tirer dessus = to be shot at
  • Tuer quelqu’un = to kill someone
  • Abattre quelqu’un = To intentionally kill someone with a weapon / to strike someone down
  • Blesser quelqu’un = to wound someone
  • Un tank – a tank
  • Un camion – a truck
  • Un hélicoptère – a helicopter
  • Un avion – a plane
  • Un missile – a missile
  • Un bateau – a boat
  • Un sous-marin – a submarine

Different French Armies

  • L’armée – the army (general term)
  • L’armée de terre – the army (the ground division)
  • L’armée de l’air – the Air Force
  • La Marine nationale – the Navy (not the Marines, which would be translated as “les troupes de marines”… Note as well that “la marine marchande” is the ensemble of commercial ships.

How do You Say World War I and World War II in French?

We have several ways to talk about WWI and WWII in French.

  • La Première Guerre mondiale, La Guerre de 14 (quatorze) = WWI
  • La Deuxième Guerre mondiale, La Guerre de 40 (quarante) = WWII

The War Against Terror in French

I wrote a whole article to talk about the French Terrorism Vocabulary – you’ll find more war-related terms there.

You may also be interested in D-Day – Le Débarquement and Vive la France – How to Express Patriotism in French.

I post exclusive mini lessons, tips, pictures and more daily on my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages – so join me there!

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Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 20 years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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