Chances are, you've had trouble trying to pronounce croissant, but good news: you're not alone. Most English speakers have no idea how to say the name of that flakey, crescent-shaped pastry without a struggle, usually calling it a "kru-sant" or "kroo-sont." Yikes. I'm here to show you how to pronounce croissant like a real Frenchman, eliminating linguistic confusion and helping you sound très chic when ordering at the boulangerie.  

History of the Croissant

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Julia Gilman

Surprisingly, the croissant is not really French. It originated in Austria as the kipfel—a crescent-shaped pastry resembling the crescent moon of the Ottoman flag. According to legend, Marie Antoinette introduced the pastry to France out of nostalgia for her Austrian heritage (more likely it was introduced in 1838 by Austrian baker August Zang, who opened the first Vienesse bakery in Paris).

Eventually, French bakers started making their own version of the kipfel using puff pastry instead of dough. In fact, the croissant became a part of French culture so late in the country's history that the first recognizably French croissant recipe didn't appear until 1906.

How to Pronounce Croissant

croissant, sweet, coffee, bread
Kristine Mahan

Despite its Austrian roots, the croissant's name is undoubtedly French, literally meaning 'crescent' in middle French, referring to the pastry's half-moon shape. 

The correct French pronunciation of croissant is "kwa-son." This is because T's at the end of French words are usually silent (unless it's two T's and an E like in baguette). The beginning of the word is pronounced "kwa," because that's the standard pronunciation for French words starting in "croi" such as the word croître, meaning 'to grow,' or the ballet term croisé, meaning 'crossed.'

Check out these common mispronunciations of croissant and see how it sounds when a native French speaker says it:

In the end, it's important to remember that correctly pronouncing words is less about sounding intelligent or classy, and more about respecting the language and cultural context that the word exists in. Butchering another culture's words happens a lot, but it doesn't have to be as prevalent in the age of the internet where we all have the opportunity to educate ourselves a little easier.

The next time you find yourself at a boulangerie, order a croissant with confidence in your linguistic ability, and respect for the culture that enables you to enjoy all that flaky goodness.