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The French They Never Taught You 16: Social isn't Always Social

The French adjective social has three basic meanings, two of which are fairly obvious to English speakers and one of which is not.

First of all, social can of course mean "social", in the sense of "relating to society" (la société). So mobilité sociale is "social mobility."

Second, social can mean "corporate," in the sense of "relating to a company" (which is also called la société in French). So une dénomination sociale is a company name.

The third meaning is less apparent and sometimes trips translators up. Social in French (but not in English) can mean "related to work or labor."


Droit social is labor and employment law. It's another way of saying droit du travail.

Revendications sociales are workers' demands.

A plan social is a lay-off plan.

A convention sociale is a collective bargaining agreement.

Informations sociales is human resources information.

Charges sociales are payroll taxes.

ABC se voulait un modèle social means ABC wanted to be a model employer.


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