French Word of the Day: Verbaliser

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French Word of the Day: Verbaliser
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This French word usually has little to do with turning a noun into a verb.


Why do I need to know verbaliser?

Because if you find yourself interacting with a French police officer, this word would be important to know.

What does it mean?
Verbaliser - roughly pronounced vehr-bah-lee-zay - might look like an easy word to translate into English, but most of the time it actually means that you're being given a fine or other penalty.

So if you’re driving over the speed limit for example, not wearing a seatbelt or cycling with earphones in or other low-level offences you might get pulled over and the police officer would record your offence or give you a fine. In this case, you would find yourself being 'verbalisé' by the officer.

This term often comes up whenever the French government is considering instituting a new fine or penalty.


Though less common, verbaliser can be used in other contexts aside from interacting with law enforcement. Just like it is in English, it can also mean "to verbalise" your thoughts rather than think them or write them down.

If you are looking for a synonym for verbaliser, you might say pénaliser, sanctionner, condemner, or payer une amende (to pay a fine).

Use it like this

Je suis passée au feu rouge, l'agent me verbalise. - I went through a red light and the police officer gave me a fine.

La Ville peut verbaliser les infractions au code de la route grâce à la vidéo protection. - The city can sanction road traffic offences thanks to video surveillance footage.


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[email protected] 2018/08/08 21:39
Did I read paragraph eight correctly? <br />Surely that is one of those French driving myths.<br />Why would driving without a shirt on be illegal? I quite often drive, in the summer, in just a vest. Does that mean I'm breaking the law?

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