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French word of the day: Jour J

Wednesday is a 'Jour J' is France, so here's what that means in different contexts.

French word of the day: Jour J
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Why do I need to know Jour J?
Jour J has a very specific meaning to describe a certain event in history but it is also used as an expression in everyday conversation. 
So, what does it mean?
Jour J is the French equivalent of D-Day – the day when Allied forces began the Normandy Landings in 1944, which launched the Western Allied effort to liberate France from Nazi Germany. 
However it is also used to describe other important days or key dates in the calendar.
Like D-Day in English, Jour J is used figuratively in everyday conversation to refer to a big event, and in both languages the letters ‘J’ or ‘D’ do not stand for anything but are simply taken from the words Jour and Day. 
So Wednesday is Jour J for the health passport – the day when the previously announced pass sanitaire scheme comes into force.

Unlike in English however, the French also use linked military expressions to mean the build up, or days following, an important event. 
For example, in French you can describe three days before a big events a J-3, or similarly two days or one day before as J-2 and J-1, respectively. You can do the same for the days following the event, such as J+3, J+2 and J+1. 
Use it like this 
C’est Jour J pour le pass sanitaire dans les lieux de loisirs et de culture rassemblant plus de 50 personnes – It’s the launch day for the health passport in culture and leisure venues where more than 50 people gather
Le Jour J et la bataille de Normandie est une période de l’histoire si intéressante à étudier – D-Day and the battle for Normandy is a very interesting period of history to study
Mondial-2019: à J-3, Macron passe ses consignes aux Bleues – World Cup 2019: Three days to go and Macron gives his instructions to the French women’s team

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For members


French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

A daube is a delicious and hearty French stew - but this expression is not something that you would aspire to.

French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

Why do I need to know c’est de la daube?

Because you might want to express your strong opinion on a movie/book/TV show you’ve just watched in informal but relatively polite society.

What does it mean?

C’est de la daube  – pronounced say de la dorb – translates as ‘it’s a piece of crap’ (rubbish, while a perfectly reasonable alternative, just doesn’t quite cut it) and is perfect for use in discussions about books, films and TV shows … there’s even a book about cinema called C’est de la daube (Chroniques de cinéma)

The phrase can also be used to describe things that have little value and can be discarded after use – or, basically, anything you want to describe as ‘crap’.

Famously, daube is a classic Provençal stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence, and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan. The question, then, is how a delicious and hearty stew came to be used to describe something cheap and nasty and best avoided.

It’s thought that this phrase has its origins in the kitchen. According to Gaston Esnault in his “dictionnaire des argots”, ‘daube’ in this less-savoury context is a 19th-century word of Lyon origin to describe fruits and meat as being ‘spoiled’, applied to fruits and meats.

Notoriously, French programmers who like the Linux system often refer to Windows as Windaube…

Use it like this

C’est de la daube cette film – it’s crap, this film

Ton opinion, c’est de la daube – your opinion is rubbish