French Word of the Day: 'Canicule' (the most spoken word in France right now)

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French Word of the Day: 'Canicule' (the most spoken word in France right now)
Photo: Deposit Photos

If you live in France there's no way you can have failed to notice the word 'canicule' popping up on every French news site over the past week. So, for today's French Word of the Day, we look at what it means and why it's so hot right now.


Why have we chosen the word "canicule"?
This word is hard to escape at the moment, with the word "canicule" on the tip of everyone's tongue and often several headlines on any one news site featuring this seasonal word. 
This week weather forecasters warned that most of the country would experience a "canicule" at least until Sunday. 
So, what does it mean?
"Canicule" is the French word for "heatwave" hence why it is being used so much at the moment, with much of the country baking under a roasting sun. 
And while the literal translation of the English word "heatwave", "vague de chaleur" is also correct, "canicule" is used just as often, if not more in France. 
And it is the word of choice for "heatwave" for French weather forecasters who define an official heatwave as three consecutive days of consistently very high temperatures throughout the day and night. 
Photo: AFP
During the very hottest weather in France, you may also hear references to the "plan canicule" ("heatwave plan"). 
These plans inform people to take action to protect the groups most vulnerable in the hot weather. 
French authorities take heatwaves extremely seriously, and it's little wonder. Back in August 2003, a heatwave killed 15,000 mostly elderly people across the country. 
Word origin
The word "canicule" has its origins in Latin. 
The arrival of Canis Majoris, the Dog Star in the sky at the start of the summer, the only season in which you're likely to get a heatwave, marks the beginning of the year's hottest months.
And the word "canicule" comes from canis, meaning dog in Latin. 
Here are some examples of how to use "canicule" in everyday life. 
1. Pendant la canicule, il est recommandé de bien s'hydrater et ne limiter ses efforts physiques. En été, nous avons souvent une période de canicule.
During a heatwave, it is advisable to stay well hydrated and limit physical activity. In summer, we often have heatwaves.
2. Face aux fortes chaleurs, le gouvernement a mis en place le plan canicule.
Faced with the intense heat, the government has put the "heatwave plan" in place. 



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