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Body Parts in French 101: The Complete Guide

Celine Segueg

Learning the body parts in French is incredibly useful, from the doctor’s office to giving someone a compliment. In this post, we’ll explore vocabulary for all of the different parts of the body in French, from the head (la tête) to the toes (les orteilles).

Remember that all nouns have gender in French, which means that body parts also have their own gender, no matter the gender of the person they’re attached to. We’ve included the definite articles to show the gender of each French body part, or indicated m or f for masculine or feminine. So, whether you’re a beginner or an expert looking to expand your vocabulary, let’s dive in!

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Basic body parts in French

Like the song “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes,” there are some body parts that you’ll reference quite often. Here’s a list of the basics.

head la tête
face le visage
hair les cheveux (m)
eye l’œil (m)
eyes les yeux (m)
nose le nez
ear l’oreille (f)
mouth la bouche
tooth la dent
neck le cou
shoulder l’épaule (f)
arm le bras
hand la main
finger le doigt
chest la poitrine
back le dos
leg la jambe
knee le genou
foot le pied

Body parts in French by region of the body

Now that we’ve covered the basics you’re likely to use often, let’s take a look at some more advanced vocabulary of the body parts in French, categorized by region of the body. In the next sections we’ll include the basics that you saw above, alongside more specialized vocabulary that you can use to add more detail.

Head

Starting at the top, let’s look at some more advanced vocabulary for talking about the head in French! Fun fact: your nose (nez) and ears (oreilles) continue to grow throughout your lifetime, which is why older people may have larger noses than younger people.

head la tête
face le visage
forehead le front
eyebrow le sourcil
eye l’œil (m)
eyes les yeux (m)
nose le nez
cheek la joue
mouth la bouche
lip la lèvre
chin le menton
ear l’oreille (f)
hair les cheveux (m)
beard la barbe
mustache la moustache
bangs la frange
eyelash le cil
eyelid la paupière
jaw la mâchoire
teeth les dents (f)
tongue la langue
neck le cou

Torso

Next up, the torso! As the trunk of the human body, the torso is the part of the body where the limbs are attached. It also houses most of the body’s major organs, but we’ll get to the limbs and organs in the next sections.

torso le torse
chest la poitrine
back le dos
abdomen l’abdomen (m)
navel, belly button le nombril
waist la taille
hip la hanche
rib la côte
breast le sein
nipple le mamelon, le teton
spine la colonne vertébrale
buttock la fesse

Limbs

Limbs extend from the torso and have various functions. Fun fact: the longest bone in the human body is the femur (le fémur), located in the thigh. Let’s take a look at the words for these useful body parts in French!

limb le membre
arm le bras
hand la main
finger le doigt
thumb le pouce
fingernail l’ongle (m)
wrist le poignet
elbow le coude
forearm l’avant-bras (m)
leg la jambe
thigh la cuisse
knee le genou
calf le mollet
ankle la cheville
foot le pied
toe l’orteil (m), le doigt de pied
toenail l’ongle de pied (m)

Internal Body Parts

The vital organs that keep us alive all have their own special functions. Learn these words in case you need to talk to a medical professional or want to use a body-based metaphor, which are often related to organs.

organ l’organe (m)
brain le cerveau
heart le cœur
lungs les poumons (m)
liver le foie
stomach l’estomac (m)
kidney le rein
intestines les intestins (m)
bladder la vessie
pancreas le pancréas
spleen la rate
throat la gorge

Miscellaneous body parts

Some body parts don’t fit into the categories we’ve seen so far. Let’s take a look at these various other body parts in French.

skeleton le squelette
skin la peau
muscle le muscle
tendon le tendon
cartilage le cartilage
nerve le nerf
blood le sang
vein la veine
artery l’artère (f)
bone l’os (m)
joint l’articulation (f)
pore le pore
neuron le neurone

Idioms with body parts in French

Idioms, or phrases that have a non-literal meaning, often use body parts to express a certain idea. Let’s take a look at some French idioms that use body part vocabulary.

French idiom Literal translation Meaning
avoir les yeux plus gros que le ventre to have eyes bigger than the stomach to take more food than one can eat
avoir les dents longues to have long teeth to be very ambitious
avoir le bras long to have a long arm to have a lot of influence
avoir un cœur d’artichaut to have the heart of an artichoke to fall in love easily
avoir la main verte to have a green hand to be good at gardening, to have a green thumb
casser les pieds à quelqu’un to break someone’s feet to annoy or bother someone
se lever du pied gauche to get up on the left foot to wake up in a bad mood
se ronger les sangs to gnaw on one’s blood to worry excessively
se creuser la tête to dig one’s head to think deeply, to rack one’s brain
mettre la main à la pâte to put one’s hand in the dough to get involved in a task
avoir les oreilles qui sifflent to have whistling ears to suspect that someone is talking about you
avoir la tête dans les étoiles to have one’s head in the stars to be daydreaming, to have one’s head in the clouds

Conclusion: Body parts in French

Now that we’ve covered 101 various body parts in French, encompassing the major regions of the body, you’re ready to put them to use!

You can use these vocabulary words to help describe someone’s physical traits, or even your own. Or maybe you want to pay someone a compliment, whether they’re a member of your family, your sweetheart, or the one you love.

You can also adopt some idioms using body parts in French to enhance and vary your communication while sounding like a seasoned native speaker!

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