c. 1200, frensh, frenche, "pertaining to France or the French," from Old English frencisc "French," originally "of the Franks," from franca, the people name (see Frank). A similar contraction of -ish is in Dutch, Scotch, Welsh, suggesting the habit applies to the names of only the intimate neighbors.
In some provincial forms of English it could mean simply "foreign." Used in many combination-words, often dealing with food or sex: French dressing (by 1860); French toast (1630s); French letter "condom" (c. 1856, perhaps on resemblance of sheepskin and parchment), french (v.) "perform oral sex on," and French kiss (1923) all probably stem from the Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication, a sense first recorded 1749 in the phrase French novel. (In late 19c.-early 20c., a French kiss was a kiss on each cheek.) French-Canadian is from 1774; French doors is by 1847. To take French leave, "depart without telling the host," is 1771, from a social custom then prevalent. However, this is said to be called in France filer à l'anglaise, literally "to take English leave."
1903, American English, earlier French fried potatoes (by 1856); see French (adj.) + fry (v.). Literally "potatoes fried in the French style." The name is from the method of making them by immersion in fat, which was then considered a peculiarity of French cooking.
There are 2 ways of frying known to cooks as (1) wet frying, sometimes called French frying or frying in a kettle of hot fat; and (2) dry frying or cooking in a frying pan. The best results are undoubtedly obtained by the first method, although it is little used in this country. ["The Household Cook Book," Chicago, 1902]
French frieds (1944) never caught on. Simple short form fries attested by 1973. In the Upper Midwest of the U.S., sometimes called, with greater accuracy, American fries (1950), and briefly during a period of mutual ill feeling, an attempt was made at freedom fries (2003; compare liberty-cabbage for sauerkraut during World War I). Related: French-fry.
the form of Old French written in England from the Norman Conquest (1066) through the Middle Ages; the administrative and legal language of England 12c.-17c.; the name is attested from 1887 and was popularized, if not coined, by Skeat.
And Frenssh she spak ful faire and fetisly,
After the scole of Stratford-atte-Bowe,
For Frenssh of Parys was to hir unknowe.
"a dish cooked by being fried in a pan over high heat," 1813, from French sauté, literally "jumped, bounced" (in reference to tossing continually while cooking), past participle of sauter "to jump," from Latin saltare "to hop, dance," frequentative of salire "to leap" (see salient (adj.)). As an adjective, "fried quickly," from 1869. As a verb from 1859. Related: Sauteed. French saut also was borrowed 19c. as a ballet term.