A guide to American slang if you're French living in the U.S.

TransferWise content team
3 minute read

Over 166,000 French people have left behind the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre to live in America.

But getting settled in a whole new continent is no easy task. Just getting to grips with the language can be a challenge.

So TransferWise has gathered some of common words and phrases you’ll likely hear used in everyday conversation, but which have deceptive meanings.



In France, “entrée” appropriately means a starter course; in America, entrée is widely used to describe the main course of a meal.

Whatever the reason for this confusing twist on the language, the trend has been popping up on menus across the country. So be careful not to accidentally order a giant starter.

Fishing for Compliments

Americans say that someone is fishing for compliments when he says something negative about himself as an attempt to lure the listener into coming back with a positive.


“Clutch”? You might think this refers to a women’s hand bag, as it does in the UK, for example. However, all sports fans in the US know that clutch means getting "exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.”

“There were only 2 seconds left in the game when he hit that jump shot. LeBron James is so clutch.”


If an American casually tells you that they’re going to “nix” something, they don’t mean “nick”, as in steal something small. Using the word “nix” in America means that they’re going to put an end to or cancel something.

“I was thinking of doing a California road trip from San Francisco to San Jose and San Diego. But I only have one week for vacation now, so I think I’m going to nix San Jose.”

Chump Change

“Chump change” is that small or insignificant amount of money that you aren’t concerned about - the small coins you got back in change from a shop, for example. The term first popped up in the mid 20th century and is widely used across America.

Hit it Out of the Park


To hit something out of the park means to do something well or exactly as it should be done.

The term comes from when a baseball player hits a homerun by sending the ball over the fence.

That interview went well? Scored big on your exam? Congrats - you hit it out of the park.

Play Hooky


If an American tells you that they’re going to “play hooky,” they mean that they're going to cut school or leave work early for no particular reason.

It's similar to the term “école buissonnière” which directly translates to “skip school.”

On Point


When an American say that something’s “on point”, they mean that it’s met their standards or was deeply satisfying.

“I was starving until you made that pizza for dinner. It was on point!”

Do you send money back to France or over to the U.S.? Don't let your bank use confusing language to hide their fees.

Your bank might say it's "free" or offer a "fixed fee" to send money home but they hit you with as much as 3% or more on the exchange rate mark-up they use. That's on top of the fee they told you about.

TransferWise charges just 1% or 0.7% over $5,000 with no mark-up - far less than that wire fee your bank offers.

What do we mean by a mark-up? Take a look:


Want to see how we calculate this? Click here.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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