Community Information

1938 Glossary of Louisiana Terms:

Allee: A double row of trees leading from the road or river to a plantation house. (Fr. allee, an alley.)
Armoire: A cabinet closing with one or two doors, having rows of shelves and used for keeping clothes. (Lat. armarium, from arma, arms.)
Arpent: A former land measure, of 100 perches, which were 22 feet square. (Lat. arapennis or arepennis.)
Bagasse: The residue of sugarcane after the juice has been pressed out. (Span. bagazo.)
Baire: A mosquito net or bar. (Fr., barre, cross-bar.)
Bamboula: A dance executed to the accompaniment of a bamboula drum. (Fr. bamboula, African drum.)
Banquette: A sidewalk, so called because the early wooden sidewalks were elevated above the muddy streets. (Fr. banquette, a low bench.)
Batture: The land built up by the silting action of a river. (Fr. battre, to beat.)
Blanchisseuse: A washerwoman. (Fr. blanchir: to whiten, to clean.)
Blouse-wlante: A mother-hubbard; a loose wrapper. (Fr. voler, to fly.)
Boo: A term of endearment. (Fr., beaux)
Bouillabaisse: A stew of red snapper and redfish, with various kinds of vegetables, all highly seasoned with pepper and spices. (Prov. bouia-baisso t boiled down.)
Briquete entre poteaux: A method of construction in vogue in the eighteenth century in which bricks were filled in between the spaces of a framework of cypress timbers. (Fr. bricked between posts.)
Camelback house: A single house with the back half made into a two story. The front section remains a single.
Chacalata: The Creoles who remained among themselves, refusing to accept new customs or ideas. A local term.
Chambre a brin: A screened enclosure on a corner of a ‘gallery.’ (Fr. brin, linen cloth. In Louisiana, brin is screen wire.)
Cheniere: A mound, rising from a swamp, and covered with a grove of live oaks. (Fr. chene, an oak.)
Compere: A term of affection or friendship. The Creole animal fables use it as a title of address for characters. (Fr. prefix com, with, and pere, father.)
Courtbouillon: Redfish cooked with highly seasoned gravy. (Fr. court-bouillon, a sort of gravy consisting of white wine, salt, pepper, parsley, carrots and onions, and in which fish or game may be cooked.)
Crayfish bisque: A rich soup made with crayfish, the heads being stuffed and served in the soup. (Fr. bisque, thick soup, cullis.)
Creole: A descendant of the French and Spanish settlers in Louisiana during the Colonial period (1699-1803). (Span, criollo, native to the locality. Believed to be a Colonial corruption of criadillo, dim. of criado, bred, brought up, reared, domestic; p. pple. of criar, to breed.)
Faubourg: A suburb or neighborhood, now used only in context of a particular area, such as Faubourg Marigny. (Fr., suburb)
Gabrielle: A loose wrapper worn in the house. Local term.
Gallery: A porch, balcony. (Fr. galerie, Lat. galeria, gallery.)
Garqonniere: Bachelor quarters, usually separate from the principal part of the house. (Fr. garQon, a boy, a bachelor.)
Gard-soleil: A sunbonnet. A local term coined from Fr. garder, to guard, and soleil, the sun.
Garde-de-frise: The spikes projecting from rails separating two adjoining balconies. (Probably a hybrid formation from Fr. garde, guard, and cheval-de-frise, spiked guard rail.)
Grasset: The kingbird, or bee-martin, Tyrannus tyrannus, or the vireo, Vireo olivaceus. (Fr. grasset, fatty.)
Gris-gris: Amulet, talisman, or charm, worn for luck or used to conjure evil on enemies by the Voodoo devotees. Presumably a word of African origin.
Gumbo: The okra plant, Hibiscus esculentus, or its pods. A soup thickened with the mucilaginous pods of this plant, and containing shrimp, crabs, and often chicken, oysters, or one of the better cuts of veal. (Negro-French gumbo, from Angolan kingombo.)
Gumbo-File: A condiment made by powdering leaves of the Red Bay, Persea borbonia, powdered sassafras root often being added. It is used in place of okra for thickening gumbo.
Gumbo-Zhebes: Gumbo made of herbs instead of okra. (Negro-French Zhebe, from Fr. herbe, herb.)
llet: A city square. (Fr. ilet, little island. So called because the ditches which drained the streets were always full of water.)
Jalousie: In Louisiana, the common two-battened outdoor blind. (Fr. jalousie, Venetian Wind.)
Jambalaya: A Spanish-Creole dish made with rice and some other important ingredient, such as shrimp, crabs, oysters, sausage, chicken or game. No plausible origin can be found.
Lagniappe: A small gift presented to a customer by a merchant as an ‘extra’ or baker’s dozen. (Span, la, the, napa, from Kechuan yapa, ‘a present made to a customer.’)
Latanier: The fan-palm or palmetto.
Make menage: To clean house. A typical local translation of French faire le menage, to clean house.
Mamaloi: Voodoo priestess. (Probably from Fr. maman, mama, and roi, king.)
Mardi Gras: Shrove Tuesday, the last day of the Carnival season; day before Ash Wednesday and beginning of Lent. (Fr., lit., Fat Tuesday.)
Maringouin: A mosquito. (S. American Tupi and Guarani.)
Minou: A cat. (Fr. minet, kitten.)
Moqueur: The mocking-bird, Mimus polyglottos polyglottos. The most famous songbird in Louisiana. (Fr. moquer, to mock.)
Papillotes: Curl-papers. (Fr. papillate, curl-paper, from papillon, butterfly.)
Papillotes: Buttered or oiled paper in which fish, especially pompano, is broiled, to retain the flavor.
Parrain and Nainain: Godmother and Godfather. (Fr. parrain, from low Lat. patrinus, from pater, father.)
Perique: A unique kind of tobacco grown only in the Parish of St. James, said to have been the nickname of Pierre Chenet, an Acadian who first produced this variety of tobacco.
Perron: Porch. (Fr. perron from pierre, stone. A construction on a facade, before a door, consisting of a landing reached by several steps.)
Picaillon: Small, mean, paltry. (Provencal, picaioun, small copper coin of Piemont, worth about one centime.)
Picayune: Formerly the Spanish half-real, worth about 6% cents; then applied to the U.S. five-cent piece. (Provencal, picaioun.}
Pigeonnier: A pigeon-house, a dove-cote. (Fr. pigeon, pigeon.)
Pirogue: A small canoe-like boat, made by hollowing a log, used on the bayous. (Span, piragua, borrowed from the Carib.)
Porte-cochere: The gateway allowing vehicles to drive into a courtyard. (Fr. porte, gate, coche, coach.)
Praline: A candy patty made of pecans and brown sugar. (From Marechal du Plessis Praslin, whose cook is said to have invented it.) 
Shotgun house: A house in which, typically, a living room is followed by a bedroom, followed by a kitchen, followed by another bedroom, with the doorways all in a row. (In the French style of planning, plots of land along a river are long and thin, so the houses also came to be long and thin. The name originates from the fact that you can stand at the front door and shoot a gun straight through the back door, without hitting a single wall.)
Soiree: An evening party. (Fr. soir, from Lat. serum, late afternoon.)
Tignon: A sort of turban made of a bright-colored Madras handkerchief, formerly worn by women of color. (Fr. tignon, or chignon, the nape of the neck, from Lat. catena, chain.)
Tisane: A tea made of orange leaves or soothing herbs and used as a specific in certain illnesses. (Lat. ptisana, an infusion of maple.)