Why do I need to know coup de fil?
Coup de fil (‘coo d(eu) feel’, the ‘e’ will often go unpronounced) is an expression that will be useful for talking about a regular activity, especially if you’re an expat who likes to keep in touch with the folks at home.
What does it mean?
Un coup de fil can be broken down into coup, or ‘blow/hit/strike’, and fil, in this case, ‘wire’ – the ‘wire’ part being a reference to the wires that connected telephones back in the good old days.
Literally it might not make too much sense but un coup de fil is roughly equivalent to the English ‘ring’ or a ‘phone call’, as in: Attends un moment, il faut que je passe un coup de fil. (Wait a moment, I have to make a phone call.)
Or, Il a reçu un coup de fil de son père et il est parti. (He received a phone call from his father and left.’)
How do I use coup de fil?
In order to use the expression coup de fil, you’re often going to need a verb, though, which is going to depend on whether the subject is phoning or being phoned.
If the subject is going to make a phone call, one would typically use passer or donner un coup de fil (à quelqu’un), as in:
Tu devrais passer un coup de fil à ta mère. — You should call your mother.
Elle m’a donné un coup de fil ce matin. — She gave me a ring this morning.
If the subject is receiving the phone call, then the formulation recevoir un coup de fil (de quelqu’un) is most typical:
On a reçu un coup de fil de la police. — We received a call from the police.
More formal options include un coup de téléphone or un appel (téléphonique), but coup de fil is so common and well-established that it should be fine in most circumstances.