More Useful Than Obnoxious
Pied-à-terre—A convenient way to distinguish your studio apartment from your parents’ house.
Hors d’oeuvres—This one gets a pass because it’s mostly used by people who can’t spell it. People who want to be obnoxious say “small plates.”
Dérailleur—More concise than “that gear-shifting thing on my bike that’s rusted into place.”
Apértif—Useful because the term “pre-gaming” can also refer to sports.
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?—Obvious practical uses.
Useful, But Also Obnoxious
Décotellage—It’s nice to have a word other than “cleavage,” but this word actually has a slightly different meaning in French (it’s a tailoring technique), so don’t use it around actual French people.
A la mode—Yes, it requires fewer characters than “with ice cream,” but the number of syllables is the same, so the argument for this one is pretty thin.
Bon appétit—A little more graceful and concise than saying, “This is what we’re eating tonight and if you don’t like it you can make a damn PB&J.”
Café au lait—Used to distinguish an espresso-and-milk beverage from a Dunkin’ Donuts “regular” coffee.
Déjà vu—Has a unique and commonly understood meaning, but also no one really wants to hear about it, so shut up.
More Obnoxious Than Useful
In plein air—You’re already standing outside with an easel and a palette and probably wearing a beret…better cut your losses.
Au pair—Do you want all your friends to assume your husband is banging the nanny?
Creche—You’re missing the whole point of the Christmas story when you describe Jesus’s humble birthplace like it’s a brand of spring water.
Voila!—Your dickpic doesn’t need a caption.
Forte—I’ve tried saying both for-TAY and FORT, and people have yelled me for mispronouncing it both ways. I’m sorry, but life is too shorté for that shité.