Inria named a theorem proving assistant "Coq". Now, everytime an undergrad in 'Merica uses this theorem prover, they waste like 3 minutes trying not to say the name of it.

Since I cannot change the name of the (arguably) most popular theorem prover, I can only, must only, return the favor in kind.

What English noun phrases, as a potential name for software, when said in a French Academic Setting™, might make the speaker give pause or snicker?

  • 1
    I corrected a typo (it is Inria). Not a very good choice for a software name but I guess it is named after Thierry Coquand.
    – Dimitris
    Dec 11, 2019 at 7:49
  • @Dimitris, It's not. Coq is a pun based on "Calculus on constructions".
    – jlliagre
    Dec 11, 2019 at 9:01
  • @jlliagre Thanks. Now it sounds more logical:-)!
    – Dimitris
    Dec 11, 2019 at 9:02
  • Coq faq: Did you really need to name it like that? Some French computer scientists have a tradition of naming their software as animal species: Caml, Elan, Foc or Phox are examples of this tacit convention. In French, “coq” means rooster, and it sounds like the initials of the Calculus of Constructions CoC on which it is based.
    – jlliagre
    Dec 11, 2019 at 9:04
  • 2
    Not an answer because not a piece of software and not as such an English word, but the most recent name I could think of is the one of the Audi e-tron , knowing than "un étron" in French is a turd.
    – Laurent S.
    Dec 11, 2019 at 9:40

2 Answers 2


For developers, the word string is often a source of jokes because in French un string is a thong (we'd rather use the feminine une string when talking about the code thing, though). But worst than developers joking about it, it's when non-developers are passing by and hear you talking about strings like it's normal conversation.

And there are all the bit things, since the French word bite (pronounced a bit like the English word beat) is a dick, a cock. So when talking about game consoles, especially with someone not really into it, bit sounds immediately like you're talking about a dick. So if you say a console has 16 bits, one could answer (as a joke) that it is a lot of... dicks. And you have jokes like: "Avec la nouvelle Super Nintendo, mettez 32 bits entre les mains de vos enfants", which means: "With the new Super Nes, put 32 bits (dicks) in the hands of your children".

  • 1
    Same kind of funny mishap may occur with PIN (for code PIN) / pine. It is always a pleasure to head "introduisez votre PIN", or "votre PIN est personnel".
    – Greg
    Dec 12, 2019 at 7:45

Neither French nor English native speaker. Here are my two cents.

Face (En) and Fesse (Fr). The latter means buttock in French.

Preservative (En) and Préservatif (Fr). The latter means condom in French. Food preservative is conservateur in French.

See also here:


  • 1
    "Fesse(s)" means "buttock(s)". I'd say "ass" is more vulgar so it would be "cul".
    – Destal
    Dec 11, 2019 at 11:15
  • 1
    @Destal Thanks; modified already.
    – Dimitris
    Dec 11, 2019 at 11:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.