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Words with an aspirated h: The ultimate list

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Do you know what the French h aspiré (or aspirated h) is? No? No worries, we have just what you need, and you’ll be in the know in a minute. If you click this nice navy blue button, that is:

If you are familiar with the concept, however, we can jump to the next phase of the process, which is actually learning the words starting with an aspirated h.

If you do that, you’ll never have doubts about French pronunciation when it comes to words beginning with the letter h.

To make that super simple for you, we have created a list of the ones that really count. You can find everything you might need on a single page.

This list was assembled with practicality in mind, so each of the words featured here is in common use today. Even more importantly: we made sure to include must-know words in the first and second tables.

The third one will show you the ones we deemed a touch less important to know, but which will still interest you if you’re here to fine-tune your French. Enjoy!

1. Absolutely essential French words starting with an aspirated h

French wordEnglish equivalent
haïr (v), la haineto hate, hate (n)
hanter (v)to haunt
harceler (v)harass
hisser (v)to hoist
hurler (v), le hurlementto yell/howl, yell/ howl (n)
hors (preposition), hors-apart from/ outside/ not including
huit, huitaine, huitante, huitièmeeight, a week (yes, that’s right!), eighty (used in some Swiss cantons instead of quatre-vingts), eighth
la hanche, les hancheship, hips
la hâtehurry, haste
la hauteur (noun), la hausse (noun), hausser (verb), haut (adjective)height, raise/increase, to increase, high/tall
la hiérarchie, hiérarchiser (and other words starting with hiér-)hierarchy, to rank/order sg
la honte, honteuxshame (n), ashamed/shameful (adj)
le hallhall
le hamburgerhamburger
le hamsterhamster
le hasardchance/ luck / fate
le héroshero (you need to avoid the liaison to distinguish it from the word zéro in the plural – with the liaison, les héros would sound exactly like les zéros, because the letter h is not pronounced)
le hibouowl
le hotdog/ le hot-doghot dog

2. Common French words starting with an aspirated h

French wordEnglish equivalent
hacher (v)to mince, grind (meat), chop (herbs)
hack (v), le hackeur, la hackeuseto hack, hacker (with separate male and female forms in French)
haleter (v), le halètementto pant, panting
hanter (v)to haunt (ghost)
hautain (adj)haughty
heurter (v)to collide with, hit, run/ bump into
hideux (adj)hideous/ unsightly
hocher (la tête) (v)to nod/ to shake one’s head (yes, it can mean either! Check out our mini-explanation here)
hoqueter (v), le hoquetto hiccup, hiccup
hormis (preposition)apart from, except for
huer (v), la huéeto boo, booing
la hacheaxe
la haiehedge
la haltestop, break, stopping place
la hiérarchie, hiérarchiser (v), hiérarchique (adj)hierarchy, to rank/ class sg, hierarchical
la huttehut
le haillon (usually in the plural – haillons)rag(s)
le handball, handballeur, handballeusehandball, handball player
le harengherring
le hérissonhedgehog
le hiéroglyphe (and other words starting with hiéro-)hieroglyph
le hockeyhockey
le homardlobster
le hors-d’œuvreappetizer
le houxholly
le hurlement, hurleryell, to yell (wind: howl)
se hérisser, hérisser qn, hérisséstand on end, bristle (usually said of an animal’s fur) / annoy, trouble sy / spiky, disheveled (someone’s hair)

3. Less common French words with an aspirated h (that are still common enough to learn)

French wordEnglish equivalent
happer (v)catch, snatch in its muzzle/ beak (an animal its prey)
hardi (adj), la hardiesse (n)daring, adventurous (person) OR outlandish, extreme (thing, idea) / boldness (noun)
hululer (v)hoot (owl)
huppé (adj)posh
la hallecovered market
la herniehernia
la hersecandlestick
la hotte, hottersack, carry sg in a sack
la houillecoal
le hachoirmincer
le hamachammock
le hameauhamlet (small village)
le hand-ballhandball
le hangaraircraft hangar/ warehouse/ depot (magasin and entrepôt are more common in everyday speech)
le hannetonmaybug
le hautboisoboe/ oboe player
le hennéhenna (plant used as a hair dye)
le hennissement, hennir (v)neighing, neigh/whinny (horses), bray (to laugh noisily)
le héronheron
le hertzhertz (unit of frequency)
le hêtrebeech
le heurtoirdoor-knocker
le hip-hophip-hop
le hiraganahiragana
le hourrahurrah/ hooray
le hublot(airplane, boat, ship) window
le huskyhusky (dog)

Bonus: Country names, nationalities, and names starting with an aspirated h

French wordEnglish equivalent
Henri, HenryHenri, Henry
Hollywood, hollywoodesque, hollywoodien/ hollywoodienneHollywood, Hollywood-like, from Hollywood
Hun, HunsHun, Huns
la HiroshimaHiroshima
la Hollande, le hollandais, hollandais/ hollandaisethe Netherlands, Dutch (language), Dutch (adjective)
la Hongrie, le hongrois, hongrois (adj)Hungary, the Hungarian language, Hungarian (adjective)
les Habsburgthe Habsburgs

Please note that there are some French words starting with an aspirated h we judged too rare to include here. Nevertheless, you can find these online if you’re curioustaking a look at this page would be a good start!

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