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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: la vache!

Don’t know what this expression means? La vache! It’s time you found out.

French Expression of the Day: la vache!
Why do I need to know la vache?
 
This is probably one of the most commonly used French interjections and works in just about any situation.
 
What does it mean?
 
La vache (‘la vahsh’) can literally be translated as ‘the cow’, but is actually used as an expression of surprise, admiration, or disappointment, similar to ‘damn!’ or ‘oh my god!’.
 
English speakers often translate it as ‘holy cow!’, which is fairly accurate, except that the French actually use la vache on regular basis. 
 
La vache can be positive, negative, or neutral depending on the context. So, in a positive sense, one could say: La vache, je crois que tu as gagné au loto! – ‘Oh my god, I think you won the lottery!’
 
But in a negative sense, la vache works just as well: Ah la vache! On s’est fait écraser par le PSG à nouveau. – ‘Damn! We got crushed by PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) again.’
 
Of course, la vache doesn’t have to positive or negative, but can just express neutral surprise, as in, Il est déjà minuit, la vache! – It’s already midnight, wow!
 
As you may have noticed, la vache is also often preceded by oh or ah, as in Oh la vache! Ça m’a fait peur! – ‘Whoa, that scared me!’
 
La vache is informal, and best suited for informal situations, but is not offensive and can be heard from French speakers of all ages.
 
Origin
 
Supposedly, this expression dates back to the 17th century, when farmers would bring a cow into town with them to demonstrate to the villagers that the milk they were selling was fresh.
 
The townspeople would cry out la vache! upon sighting their source of milk, and the exclamation eventually evolved to become a general expression of surprise.
 
Alternatives
 
Both dis donc and oh là là are similar to la vache in that they are expressions of surprise that can be positive, negative, or neutral, depending on the context in which they are used.
 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: C’est du vent

This French expression is useful for brushing things off.

French Expression of the Day: C’est du vent

Why do I need to know c’est du vent?

Because you might wonder why the politician is talking about wind in response to questions about the latest scandal.

What does it mean?

C’est du vent roughly pronounced say doo vahnt – translates literally to “it is the wind”, but in reality it is more akin to the English expression “it’s just hot air” or “it’s a load of nonsense”.

You can use this expression when you want to say that someone has made an empty threat, or if their words are unlikely to be followed through with real action. 

This is a French expression you might hear politicians use when seeking to downplay something – for instance, a strike threat from unions. 

You may also hear someone use this expression to minimise an accusation or rumour that is circulating about them. If you want to target a specific person when using the phrase, you could say “Il/Elle fait du vent” (He/She is full of hot air). 

Use it like this

Il a déclaré que ce n’était du vent lorsque les journalistes l’ont interrogé sur les accusations de blanchiment d’argent.– He said it was just hot air when journalists asked him about accusations of money laundering.

Il a dit qu’il allait encore quitter son emploi cette semaine, mais il fait du vent. – He said he was going to quit his job again this week, but it’s a load of nonsense.

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