body parts in french featured image

Body Parts in French

Knowing how to say the parties du corps  (body parts) in French is a key part of building your core vocabulary

What if you need to tell a doctor where you feel pain? What if you need to describe a person? There are plenty of reasons that you need to know vocabulary surrounding the body!

This guide will take you through the most important body parts in French with example sentences to help you see how this vocabulary is used in context.


Body Parts in French: A Quick Grammar Lesson

In French, we use a definite article (i.e. “the”) to talk about body parts, rather than a possessive article (i.e. “my”) like we do in English.

The exception to this rule is if another person is involved: In that case, you’ll need to use the relevant possessive adjective, so it’s clear whose body part you’re referring to.

You’ll also need to match the gender of the body part to the correct article and adjective form. That’s right, even body parts have genders in French! We have included the matching article in the vocabulary list below, so you can tell a word’s gender by checking the definite article it’s attached to:

  • La — the (feminine, singular)
  • Le — the (masculine, singular)
  • L’ — the (masculine or feminine, followed by a vowel)
  • Les — the (plural)

Basic Body Parts in French

body parts in french inforgraphic

Example sentences:

Charles a éternué et s’est essuyé le nez. Il a dit au médecin qu’il ne pouvait rien sentir ni goûter et a commencé à trembler.  
(Charles sneezed and wiped his nose. He told the doctor that he couldn’t smell or taste anything and started to shiver.)

La petite fille est tombée dans la rue et s’est coupée la main gauche, qui a saigné. Elle a commencé à pleurer et à appeler sa mère.  
(The little girl fell over in the street and cut her left hand, which bled. She started to cry and call for her mom.)

Le petit garçon a bâillé et a fermé ses grands yeux.  
(The little boy yawned and closed his big eyes.)

Common French idioms:

Se creuser la tête — To rack your brain (Literally: To dig in the head)

Il se creusait la tête pour trouver des choses à dire.
(He racked his brain for something to say.)

Garder la tête froide — To keep a cool head

Nous devons garder la tête froide pour trouver une solution.
(We need to keep a cool head so we can find a solution.)

Donner sa langue au chat — Used to indicate you give up (Literally: To give the tongue to the cat)

Je donne ma langue au chat.
(I give up.)

Ne pas avoir la langue dans sa poche — To never be at a loss for words (Literally: To not have your tongue in your pocket)

Elle a la réputation de ne pas avoir sa langue dans sa poche.
(She has the reputation for never being at a loss for words.)

Faire la sourde oreille — To choose to ignore (Literally: To make a deaf ear)

Le gouvernement fait la sourde oreille à ces problèmes.
(The government is turning a deaf ear to these problems.)

Ça me fait une belle jambe — That does me a whole lot of good (Literally: This makes me a pretty leg)

Elle est partie ? Ça me fait une belle jambe.
(She left? That does me a whole lot of good.)

Mon œil ! — Yeah, right! (Literally: My eye!)

Il a dit qu’il allait gagner à la loterie. Mon œil !
(He said he’s going to win the lottery. Yeah, right!)

Les doigts dans le nez — Very easily (Literally: Fingers in my nose)

Je l’ai fait, les doigts dans le nez.
(I did it, fingers in my nose!)

Avoir le bras long — To be well-connected (socially) (Literally: To have long arms)

Vous devez avoir le bras long pour réussir dans cette carrière.
(You have to be well-connected to succeed in this career.)

Coûter un bras — To be expensive (Literally: To cost an arm)

Cette voiture coûte un bras.
(That car cost an arm.)

Avoir un poil dans la main — To be very lazy (Literally: To have hair in the hand)

Elle a un poil dans la main.
(She is very lazy.)

Sauter aux yeux — It’s obvious (Literally: It jumps to your eyes)

Le bébé était fatigué, ça sautait aux yeux.
(The baby was tired, that was obvious.)

Head and Face in French

young boy smiling

Example sentences:

L’athlète musclé a commencé à respirer fortement et a essuyé la sueur de son front.  
(The muscular athlete started breathing heavily and wiped the sweat off his forehead.)

Le bébé joufflu et chauve avait le hoquet après avoir mangé et fronçait les sourcils.  
(The chubby and bald baby had hiccups after eating and frowned.)

Le visage du grand homme est devenu pâle et il a dit qu’il avait mal à la tête.
(The tall man’s face went pale and he said he had a headache.)

Upper Body Parts in French

person in a denim jacket

Example sentences:

La gymnaste petite mais flexible a commencé à rire et a perdu l’équilibre. Son poignet était douloureux à cause de la chute.  
(The short but flexible gymnast started laughing and lost her balance. Her wrist was sore from the fall.)

J’ai vu le grand tatouage de l’homme sur son épaule.  
(I saw the man’s large tattoo on his shoulder.)

J’ai entendu l’homme musclé se plaindre d’une douleur dans le dos.  
(I heard the muscular man complaining about a pain in his back.)

Lower Body Parts in French

girl in black boots jumping in the street

Example sentences:

Le petit garçon s’est cogné les orteils contre la porte.  
(The little boy stubbed his toes on the door.)

Le grand homme s’est tordu la cheville sur le tapis de course de la salle de sport.  
(The tall man twisted his ankle on the treadmill at the gym.)

La grand-mère maigre et frêle est tombée sur son genou au supermarché.
(The thin and frail grandmother fell on her knee at the supermarket.)

Common French idiom:

Casser les pieds à quelqu’un — To annoy someone (Literally: To break someone’s feet)

Son petit frère lui casse les pieds tout le temps.
(His little brother annoys him all the time.)

Internal Body Parts in French 

model of a heart

Example sentences:

Le médecin a vu la blessure sur la peau du patient et a essuyé le sang avant de mettre un pansement sur la plaie.  
(The doctor saw the injury on the patient’s skin and wiped the blood away before putting a dressing on the wound.)

L’infirmière a écouté les battements de cœur de la grand-mère et lui a dit de se reposer.  
(The nurse listened to the grandmother’s heartbeats and told her to rest.)

Le petit garçon est très intelligent. Il doit avoir le plus gros cerveau du monde !  
(The little boy is very clever. He must have the world’s largest brain!)

Muscles in French

shirtless man exiting a pool

Note that while some muscles have the exact same spelling in French as their English counterparts, the pronunciations may be different. Click on any word below to hear the correct way to say it in French!

Example sentences:

Le coureur maigre et poilu avait des muscles tendus après avoir couru le marathon de Paris.  
(The thin and hairy runner had strained muscles after running the Paris Marathon.)

Le médecin a touché les mollets du patient pour examiner la blessure.  
(The doctor touched the patient’s calves to examine the injury.)

Le randonneur a cligné des yeux et essuyé ses larmes après s’être blessé aux tendons.  
(The hiker blinked and wiped his tears away after injuring his tendons.)

How To Memorize French Body Parts

At this point in the post you may be a bit overwhelmed. This is a whole lot of words! How do you memorize them all!? Simply follow these tips for remembering body parts in French:

  • Use the expressions: It’s easier to remember words with expressions and idioms, especially when the meaning is silly. So you’ll remember better that les doigts means “fingers” and le nez means “nose” when you remember them as part of the expression “les doigts dans le nez” (fingers up my nose).

    Make up your own funny expressions with the rest of the words to help you remember them all!

  • Use native media to hear the body parts used in context: Another great way to memorize body parts in French is to hear the vocabulary in action in the context of authentic French conversation. If you can’t hang out with native French speakers, you can accomplish this by watching French media like talk shows or even French YouTube channels.

    You could also try using a language learning program that is focused on immersion, like FluentU—it transforms authentic French web videos into full language learning lessons complete with interactive subtitles, flashcards and personalized quizzes.

    This helps you pick up vocabulary and everyday phrases used by native speakers by hearing them in the context of native media like movie trailers, interviews and music videos. You can find FluentU on iOS or Android.

  • Say the words often: Use the words throughout your day, as often as you can. For instance, you can narrate your day: When you wake up in the morning, say “Je tends le bras” (I am stretching my arm) as you reach overhead, or “Je me brosse les dents” (I am brushing my teeth).
  • Sing along to children’s songs: When you learned the body parts in your native language as a kid, you probably used songs to help you along.

    Do you remember the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”? The French language has its own version of that song! You can also listen to this song, which adds numbers into the mix, or this song, which uses the parts in complete sentences.


Now that you know all this new vocabulary and have seen it used in example sentences, you’ll be able to talk about your body in any situation you need to!

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