We will go to the rendez-vous as madame demands it.

What do you call the act of using a word from another language for stylistic effect like above as seen with the word bolded in black? I am pretty confident there's such a word, but I don't have the slightest idea what it might be.

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    Consider barbarism. As such a language can be barbarized. Apr 23, 2019 at 17:44

3 Answers 3


Collectively words "borrowed" from other languages are called "loan words". Rendezvous is one such, so much so that it's an actual English word:

rendezvous (n): A meeting at an agreed time and place.

There are thousands of other such words: barbecue, champagne, faux pas, kitsch, modus operandi, schadenfreude and many others.

However if you mean dropping actual foreign language words or phrases into a sentence, either to sound cosmopolitan, or because the words just don't translate well, then there really is no single term to describe this. For example:

I was so angry I couldn't speak, and it wasn't until yesterday that I had l'esprit d'escalier, as the French say, and thought of what would have been a perfect response.

There are various terms for what other people might think of it, such as "elegant" or "pretentious" but the practice itself is not called anything.


A neutral description for this is "code-switching"--where a person alternates between languages or dialects in a single conversation.

It can be done for stylistic purposes, as a marker of class or community, for technical reasons, to change the degree of formality, etc.

If you're looking for a word that implies that this is a little pretentious or affected, however, I'd say that "code-switching" wouldn't meet the criteria. The term by itself doesn't imply anything about the speaker's motivations for switching.


I'd go with preciosity:

preciosity n
1. Overrefinement, as in language, taste, or style
2. An instance of overrefinement
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