French Word of the Day: touché

While you may have heard (or even used) touché while speaking English, you should be aware that French speakers usually use this word a little bit differently...

French Word of the Day: touché
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Why do I need to know touché?

So you know that this word means very different things in English and French.

So, what does it mean?

Touché is the past participle of the word toucher, which means ‘to touch’ as a verb and refers to one of the five senses when used as a noun.

But English speakers use it to acknowledge a particularly effective counter-argument or comeback in a battle of repartee or “banter”, as some would say.

In an argument in English, touché is often used to recognize that the other person has made a good, clever or funny point that cannot be refuted or has no comeback.

This use of the word has its roots in the sport of fencing, and signaled that one of the competitors had been struck, or ‘touched’, by the other (much of fencing’s vocabulary comes from French – ‘en garde’ or ‘riposte’, for example).

In fencing as in arguing, it signals that one’s adversary has scored a point.

How do I use touché in French?

In everyday French conversation, it’s unlikely that you’ll hear touché used in this way, unless you’re actually fencing. It does, however, have some figurative meanings besides the obvious physical one that you should be aware of.

For instance, one can use touché to say that something has affected them emotionally, or moved them, similar to the use of ‘touched’ in English, as in :

J’ai été vraiment touché par sa générosité – ‘I was really touched by his/her generosity.’


Votre discours nous a beaucoup touchés – ‘Your speech really moved us.’

or simply…

Ça m’a touché – ‘That had an emotional impact on me’ or 'It really moved me'.

Another common figurative use of the verb toucher occurs when one talks about receiving or winning a certain amount of money.

For example, just as one might ‘hit the jackpot’ in English, they would similarly touche le jackpot in French.

And someone who ‘gets a bonus’ for a certain achievement would touche une prime:

Après avoir vendu sa vingtième, Jacques a touché une grosse prime – ‘After selling his 20th car, Jacques got a big bonus.’

This works with almost any monetary situation, like: toucher une bourse – ‘ to get a scholarship’ – or toucher une indemnité, ‘to receive compensation’ (for damages, injury, etc.).

Je ne touche pas ma bourse jusqu’à janvier, je suis fauché. – ‘I don’t get my scholarship (money) until January, I’m broke.’

Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to use toucher in this sense in the near future…


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French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Being patronised by a Frenchman? Roll out this phrase.

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Why do I need to know ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines?

Because someone might be trying to take you for a fool.

What does it mean?

Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines – pronounced ne me pren pah pour un lapan de see sem-enn – translates as ‘don’t take me for a six-week-old rabbit’, and is a go-to phrase to warn people not to mistake you for a fool, someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on.

The podcast Hit West from French regional newspaper Ouest-France suggests that the ‘six weeks’ comes from the age a rabbit is weaned at, and must therefore be ready to survive on its own.

And why a rabbit at all? Well no-one really seems very sure. Rabbits don’t get a good rap in the French language though, to stand someone up is poser un lapin in French.

English-language metaphor equivalents may be, “I didn’t come down in the last shower”, “I wasn’t born yesterday”, or, as Line of Duty’s DCI Hastings might say, “I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble”.

Use it like this

Honestly, keep it simple. If someone’s speaking to you in a patronising manner, simply say: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines.

Ouest France suggests that this is the ‘more elegant’ way to request that people don’t take you for a fool. It’s not offensive, but it might be a little old-fashioned. 


You can use the more basic version of this phrase – Ne me prends pas pour une idiote (don’t take me for a fool) or the slightly more punchy Ne me prends pas pour un con (don’t take me for a moron).