French word of the week: envie

It’s time once again for another French word of the week. Today we’re looking at the French noun envie.

To hear its pronunciation, listen to the audio:

Envie is a feminine noun, which means when you see it along with a definite or an indefinite article, it will use la or une.

For a little refresher, read our Easy Learning French Grammar pages on definite articles, indefinite articles and noun genders in French.

Let’s study our word of the week. Do you recognise envie from any other word in English? It’s very close to the word envy, which is helpful because it’s also one of its definitions in French. However, while you do see envie used a lot in everyday French, it’s not often used in the context of envy and jealousy like it is in English.

Just as an aside, you’re much more likely to see this idea of envying something expressed in French by the related verb form, envier:

envier quelque chose à quelqu’un to envy somebody something

Elle m’envie ma beauté. She envies my beauty.

Read more on our Easy Learning French Grammar page about using verbs with prepositions.

However, unlike the negative connotations of the word envy in English, the most common use of the noun envie in French is much more positive and optimistic. Envie expresses different meanings of a wish, a desire, a longing, or an urge.

Take a look at a few examples of where you might see the word appear:

avoir envie de faire quelque chose to feel like doing something

Après avoir lu ce livre, j’avais envie de pleurer. After having read that book, I felt like crying.

Nous avons envie de danser ce soir ! We fancy a dance tonight!

Ça fait très envie. It’s very tempting.

Cette pizza te fait envie ? Do you like the look of this pizza?

donner envie à quelqu’un de faire quelque chose to make somebody want to do something

Just for a little bonus – there is another definition of the noun envie which you won’t hear so often:

une envie a birthmark (also called une tache de naissance)

While it doesn’t appear to have any relation to the other meanings, it’s something interesting to note. You never know when it might crop up!

If you feel like learning even more facts about French words, then we’ll see you here again next week.

Written by Holly Tarbet, freelance copywriter and editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

Other Articles

French word of the week: ouvrir

This series of weekly blogs takes a closer look at words from our French dictionaries. The word we're focusing on this week is the French verb 'ouvrir'. Read More

French word of the week: haut

This series of weekly blogs takes a closer look at words from our French dictionaries. The word we're focusing on this week is the French word 'haut'. Read More

French word of the week: neuf

This series of weekly blogs takes a closer look at words from our French dictionaries. The word we're focusing on this week is the French word 'neuf'. Read More