French Expression of the Day: coup de grâce

You will probably have heard this expression in English, and may have even said it yourself, but do you know exactly what it means?

French Expression of the Day: coup de grâce
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know coup de grâce?
You might have heard this expression used in English but no doubt you'll have guessed that it's French. 
It's a very useful expression that you'll see quite often used in France.
So, what does coup de grâce mean?
A coup de grâce literally translates to a 'blow of mercy' and when used in conversation it means a 'death blow' or 'mercy killing' to end the suffering of a severely wounded person or animal. 
For example, Le vétérinaire donna le coup de grâce au vieux chien. — The vet gave the coup de grâce to the old dog.
However it can also be used in a figurative sense to mean an action that finally puts an end to a situation.
For example, Cette dispute fut le coup de grâce du repas. — This dispute was the coup de grâce of the meal.
It is often used in this way to describe the parting shot which puts an end to an argument.  

This expression is pronounced very differently in English and French.
Here's a helpful video from YouTube which demonstrates how to say coup de grâce just like a French person. 


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French Expression of the Day: Avoir l’estomac dans les talons

A sensation you might feel around midi after skipping your morning croissant.

French Expression of the Day: Avoir l'estomac dans les talons

Why do I need to know avoir l’estomac dans les talons?

Because you might want to inform your friend waiting in the long restaurant line with you about just how hungry you actually are.

What does it mean?

Avoir l’estomac dans les talons usually pronounced ah-vwar leh-sto-mack dahn lay tah-lonn – literally means to have the stomach in the heels, but it really just means that you are extremely hungry. A British-English equivalent might be ‘my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut’.

As with saying ‘I’m starving’ you wouldn’t use this to talk about people who are genuinely at risk of starvation, it’s just a phrase to complain about being hungry and wanting something to eat.

The expression probably originated around the end of the 19th century, and there are a couple of different ideas about how it came to be.

The first is that it’s intended to paint a picture of your stomach narrowing so much that it goes all the way down to your heels. The second idea proposes that since ‘les talons’ (heels) is a homonym with ‘l’étalon’ (stallion), the phrase might actually be referring to horse meat. You might be so hungry that the only thing that could possibly satiate your empty stomach is a hearty portion of horse meat.

Finally, there’s simply the idea that a person walking a long distance would have severe pain in his heels (or feet), and his hunger is so intense that it is as bad as the pain from walking a long distance.

Regardless of where it comes from, this expression is a sure-fire way to communicate your need for nourishment (or perhaps a nice helping of horse).

 Use it like this

Je ne peux pas attendre plus longtemps dans cette longue file, j’ai l’estomac dans les talons. – I cannot wait in this long line much longer, I’m starving.

Je n’ai pas mangé le déjeuner hier et à 17h, j’avais l’estomac dans les talons. Tout le monde dans le bureau pouvait entendre mon estomac faire du bruit ! – I skipped lunch yesterday and by 5pm I was starving! Everyone in the office could hear my stomach making noise.