LOL, swag, selfie – French Google searchers need to know what they mean

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Confused French internet users searched the web for English acronyms and new trendy terms as anglicisms continue to invade their language, the top searches recorded by Google’s French address for 2014 show. LOL was the top definition search on


Millions of French-speakers learnt that LOL – an abbreviation that once confused British Prime Minister David Cameron – stands for “laughing out loud” in 2014, according to Google’s league table of most-searched terms, released on Tuesday.

It was the most-searched definition on the company revealed.

Many also had problems with “swag” (“to be cool, in clothes, behaviour, tastes and language”, according to Wiktionnaire) which was the third top definition search, “selfie”, which was fourth, and “hipster” - an ostentatious pursuit of trends that has not taken off in France as it has in Britain in the US, in the latest, much-publicised form, at least – which was seventh.

The quest for definitions was not uppermost on francophone internet users minds, however.

Actress Julie Gayet, whose notoriety hit the stratosphere when she was reported to have had an affair with President François Hollande, was top search, followed by reality TV star Nabilla Benattia – slightly better known in France than in the rest of the world – and the football World Cup.

The disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane and the besieged Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane were among the subjects that excited greatest interest on French Google news but, worryingly for French politicians, another top search was to find out how to cast a blank ballot paper in elections.

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