“Water” in French and 80+ Related Words and Phrases [Plus Pronunciation]
There’s more to water in French than Évian and Perrier.
Consider La Côte d’Azur (French Riviera), the Loire, the Seine, the famous fountains of Versailles and the healing eaux thermales (thermal springs) of towns like Vichy and Évian-les-Bains.
Since it’s such an essential, in this post we’ll teach you how to talk about water in French—from the all-important word eau to everyday expressions, water temperature, degrees of wetness and more.
Ready to dive in?
- How To Say “Water” in French
- Water-related French Vocabulary
- And one more thing...
How To Say “Water” in French
Before we get into all the different water-related words, here’s how to say just plain “water”:
- Eau — water
As you hear in the audio sample above, eau is pronounced similar to an English “o” sound, but less forward in the mouth (this is a sound represented by the IPA symbol /o/).
Eau is a feminine noun, so it’s paired with the feminine articles la and une:
The verb meaning “to water” (like watering a plant) is arroser .
Below we’ll go over several categories of French water terms, vocabulary and phrases.
Water-related French Vocabulary
French Expressions Involving Water
Fill your linguistic well with these poetic water-soluble metaphors.
- Pleuvoir des cordes — to rain heavily (this phrase is the French equivalent of ‘‘it’s raining cats and dogs’’)
- Avoir de l’eau dans le gaz — things aren’t going well (literally, “to have water in the gas”)
- Porter l’eau à la rivière — to perform a futile task (literally, “to carry water to the river”)
- Tomber à l’eau — to go by the wayside; to be nixed
- Mettre à l’eau — to launch
- Mouiller l’ancre — to drop anchor
Rather than focusing on the action of dropping the anchor, this verb refers to it getting wet.
- Être mouillé dans un scandale — to get mixed up in a scandal
- Avoir l’eau à la bouche — to have one’s mouth water
- Naviguer en eaux troubles — to fall in with a bad crowd
- Un flot d’injures — a torrent of abuse
- Être à flot — to be on an even keel (financially)
- À l’eau de rose — overly sentimental
- Se mettre à l’eau — to stay sober, to go swimming
- Arroser quelqu’un de vin — to top off someone’s wine
- Arroser quelqu’un avec des pots-de-vin — to “water” someone with a bribe; to grease someone’s palm
- Être en eau — to be in over one’s head; to be covered or bathed in sweat
Everyday French expressions like these are easier to pick up if you hear them used in context. These phrases are common enough that you might come across them in French literature or TV shows.
If you’re looking to pick more French vocabulary and phrases, you could try learning with the help of authentic media using a video-based learning program like FluentU.
This app and website immerses you in clips made by and for native speakers, so you’ll learn words and expressions by hearing them used in natural contexts.
You can search FluentU’s video dictionary for phrases related to water, weather or any other topic that interests you. This connects you to videos that feature the vocab and phrases that you want to learn.
Temperature in French
These descriptors for water temperature (la température de l’eau) will take you from freezing to tepid to scalding.
- Gelée — freezing
- Glacée — frigid, ice-cold
- Glaciale — icy, glacially cold
- Tiède — tepid, lukewarm
- À température ambiante — room temperature
- Chaude — warm
- Très chaude — hot
- Frémissante — simmering
- Bouillante — boiling
- Brûlante — scalding
Different Types of Drinking Water
L’eau potable (French bottled water) is just about as iconic as la tour Eiffel (the Eiffel Tower) and the béret. With this fluid vocabulary, you can be fluent in the most basic and necessary beverage of all.
- L’eau plate — still water
- L’eau pétillante — fizzy/sparkling water
- L’eau de Seltz — Seltzer water
- L’eau minérale — mineral water
- L’eau de source — spring water
- L’eau purifiée (or l’eau épurée) — purified drinking water
- L’eau distillée — distilled water
- L’eau en bouteille — bottled water
- L’eau courante — running water
- L’eau du robinet — tap water
- L’eau trouble — cloudy water
French Wet Weather Terms
Pack your poncho and prepare to ride the rapids of le temps pluvieux (wet weather) terms.
- La brume — mist
- La bruine — drizzle
- L’averse — rain shower
- La chute de pluie — rainfall (a single, local instance)
- Les précipitations — rainfall (a cumulative rainfall measurement)
- Les fortes pluies — heavy rainfall
- Le déluge — deluge
- La pluie torrentielle — torrential downpour
- Une inondation — flood
- Un orage — thunderstorm
- La pluie verglaçante — freezing rain
- La neige fondue — sleet (literally, “melted snow”)
Degrees of Wetness in French
Master a scale for measuring les degrés d’humidité (degrees of wetness) — especially in the context of food, clothing and nature.
- Humide — damp, moist
- Trempé / Trempée — soggy (clothes), drenched, soaked
- Détrempé / Détrempée — soggy (ground), waterlogged, sodden
- Mou / Molle — soggy (used with things like breakfast cereal, chips or bread)
- Mouillé / Mouillée — wet
- Être tout mouillé — to be all wet, to be wet through
- Saturé / Saturée — saturated
Bodies of Water in French
From underground water to the largest ocean, you’ll do swimmingly with these words describing les masses d’eau (bodies of water).
- La nappe phréatique — groundwater; water table
- La flaque — puddle, pool, spill
- La piscine — swimming pool
- Le lac — lake
- Le fleuve — large river
- La rivière — somewhat small, narrow or shallow river
- La mer — sea
- Le bras de mer — inlet
- Le ruisseau — stream, brook or creek
- Le détroit — strait
- Un étang — pond
- Un océan — ocean
- La marée — tide
Water-related French Verbs
This collection of des verbes qui concernent l’eau (water-related verbs) will help you talk about wet weather and water activities such as gardening or doing laundry.
- Arroser au jet —to hose something off or down
- Irriguer — to irrigate
- Pleurer — to cry; to weep
- Larmoyer — to get teary-eyed, to tear up, to snivel; to get watery eyes; to get maudlin
- Pleuvoir — to rain
- Bruiner — to drizzle
- Humecter — to dampen (a rag or cloth)
- Tremper — to soak
- Saturer — to saturate
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Now that you have this pool of French water words, you can glide confidently through water-related content and conversations in French.
Bon voyage! (Have a good trip!)
And one more thing...
If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.
FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:
FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:
Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."
All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)