French Word of the Day: ‘verbaliser’ (a verb you think you already know)

French Word of the Day: 'verbaliser' (a verb you think you already know)
If you've been following the French news recently, no doubt you'll have noticed the word "verbaliser" cropping up quite a bit... particularly if you've been reading about changes to driving laws. But what does it really mean?
Why have we chosen the verb “verbaliser”?
First of all, we’re not talking about the act of saying something out loud.
We've picked “verbaliser” because it’s another buzz word that’s been making the rounds in the French press of late as a reduction of the speed limit, from 90 km/h to 80 km/h, which has been introduced on France's countryside and secondary roads.
This has led the French media to warn citizens that those who don’t comply can find themselves being “verbaliser” by a police officer. 
What does it mean exactly?
It means to “write somebody up” or “to be given a fine”. 
So if you’re driving over the speed limit for example, or breaking other rules such as driving with your shirt off or driving with your seatbelt unbuckled, you might get pulled over and the police officer might record your offense or give you a fine.
Je suis passée au feu rouge, l'agent me verbalise.
I went through a red light and the police officer gave me a fine.
Coupe du Monde 2018 : ils se font verbaliser pour avoir trop klaxonné le soir de la victoire des Bleus.
World Cup 2018: they’re being penalized for having honked too much on the night of the victory of Les Bleus.
La Ville peut verbaliser les infractions au code de la route grâce à la vidéo protection. 
The city can write up road traffic offences thanks to video surveillance footage.
Other Meanings
The other meaning is the obvious one. Just like it is in English, “verbaliser” in French also means to say something, “to verbalise” your thoughts rather than think them or write them down.
Some of these can get technical but here are a few terms that are similar: pénaliser, sanctionner, condemner, payer une amende.

Member comments

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  1. Did I read paragraph eight correctly?
    Surely that is one of those French driving myths.
    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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