French Word of the Day: piger

If you want to be able to show that you understand what’s going on, you’d better know this French verb - got it?

French Word of the Day: piger
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know piger?
The proper use of the verb piger will help you to express comprehension (or lack thereof) in a casual, laid-back way. So if you have arrived at the happy day when you actually understand what's being said to you in French, then this is you word.
What does it mean?
Derived from the popular Latin verb pedicus, meaning to trap (prendre au piège in French), piger is a colloquial way to say ‘to understand’, similar to the English ‘to get’ something – Je pige is roughly equivalent to ‘I get it’ and je ne pige pas is ‘I don’t get it’.
Here are a few more examples:
Si tu veux de la qualité, il faut payer. Tu piges ?
‘If you want quality, you have to pay for it. Get it?’
Dans le cours de maths, il n’a rien pigé.
‘In math class, he didn’t understand anything.’
Elle est maline, ta copine, elle pige très vite.
She’s clever, your girlfriend, she catches on quickly.
Je n’y pige que dalle.
‘I don’t understand a thing about it.’
It should be noted that in certain contexts, piger can have different, more specific meanings – it’s also means ‘to freelance’ when applied to journalists or ‘to draw’, like in a board game, in Quebec, but these usages are less common than that of ‘to understand’.
The standard French for ‘to understand’ is comprendre, appropriate in more serious situations (say, when you’re explaining to the public transit police why you’re on the RER outside of Zone 1 with only a t+ ticket), though piger is by no means vulgar.
Another colloquial way to say that you ‘get’ something is to use the verb capter, which also means ‘to receive’ (a radio signal, for example). Je ne capte rien de ce que tu dis means ‘I don’t understand anything you’re saying’.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


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).