French Kiss: Don’t Forget Your Galoshes

From the 1995 Lawrence Kasdan romantic comedy French Kiss
starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline

This might come as a surprise to you but, before today, the French didn’t even have an officially-sanctioned word for one of their most famous romantic exports:

French Kissing

That’s right. The very practice that returning World War I soldiers nicknamed after the French has only just now gotten its own entry in the French dictionary. This racy new vocabulary word?


Now, words rarely appear just because the powers that be decide to create them. The truth is that galocher has been around for quite some time as a slang expression for French kissing. It keeps company with other relatively respectable expressions like faire un baiser profond avec la langue (“deep kiss with the tongue”) and donner un baiser amoureux (“give a lover’s kiss”), as well as with some more colorful expressions like rouler une pelle (“roll a shovel”), rouler un patin (“roll a skate/skating boot”) and — of course — rouler une galoche. As you can see, the French like to describe kissing with the verb for rolling something.* I suppose that makes sense when you think about it … but I’ll just leave it there.

So, that brings us to galoche, the root of this new verb. What does that mean? Well, a galoche is a shoe with a wooden sole and leather uppers but, in its original form, it was a wooden shoe like the ones Holland is famous for.** They’re designed to protect your feet from wet, muddy conditions so, essentially, we’re talking about clogs or … ta-da!

(Isn’t etymology fun?)


So, the next time you’re struggling to remember the French verb for sloppy, wet French kissing — Stop, I don’t wanna know! — just think about galoshes and, voilà, you’ve got your verb!

P.S. — The footnotes:

*In Québec, you can also hear “Frencher,” a verb formed from the English expression “French kiss.” “French kiss” as a noun also exists in France, by the way … but with a charming accent.

**There’s also a possible linguistic connection to skating here, too. A galoche can be used to describe a skating boot.

Oh, and I assume that galocher is a regular verb of the first group, which means it’s conjugated like … aimer, for example.

je galoche
tu galoches
il galoche
nous galochons
vous galochez
ils galochent

© 2013 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

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