French Expression of the Day: Un quatre-heures

'Le quatre-heures' is a must-know French expression, if only to be aware of its second and not so innocent meaning.

French Expression of the Day: Un quatre-heures

Why do I need to know un quatre-heures?

Le quatre-heures is quite a tradition in France, especially for children. However, you would still find French grown-ups taking un quatre-heures on a regular basis as well.

So, what does it mean?

Un quatre-heures is an afternoon snack kids usually have when they come home from school, ranging from an apple and a glass of juice to a full banquet of croissants and pains au chocolat. 

The name simply comes from the time around which this snack is taken: around four o'clock in the afternoon. Similar to the British elevensies or three o'clocks.

Initially intended as a way for kids to wait until dinner, some adults also indulge in le quatre-heures. Another word for this you may have already heard is le goûter.

J'achète toujours un pain chocolat à Paul pour son quatre-heures. – I always buy Paul a pain au chocolat for his quatre-heures.

Je n'ai pas pris de quatre-heures, je meurs de faim! – I did not eat a quatre-heures, I am starving!

But beware of the French people's love for evocative sayings. While most of the time this refers to a snack for kids, it can also be an expression of a sexual nature.

If you ever hear someone say they would like to turn someone into their quatre-heures, then you should know the discussion topic is not revolving around food anymore. 

T'as vu le nouvel informaticien? J'en ferai bien mon quatre-heures, si tu vois ce que je veux dire. – Have you seen the new IT guy? I would not mind a piece of that, if you know what I mean.

For more French phrases, check out our word of the day section.








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French Word of the Day: Doper

This French word does not have anything to do with one of Snow White’s seven dwarves, even if it might look like it.

French Word of the Day: Doper

Why do I need to know doper?

Because you may not have realised you can use this word in several different contexts.

What does it mean?

Doper roughly pronounced doe-pay – shares the same meaning as the English word “to dope” – in the sense that it means taking or giving a stimulant before a sporting event or competition. 

It doesn’t carry the English sense of ‘to sedate’, however, nor is it used as a nickname for marijuana. 

In French this word is not only used when describing an athlete who has resorted to unfair methods to win. In fact, you will see this word in many other contexts as well because doper also means to stimulate or boost something in a generic sense. 

If you open a business newspaper in France, you might see an article using doper in the headline – perhaps one that discusses how the government plans to stimulate a dying sector of the economy.

If you want a synonym for doper, you can still use the verb stimuler (to stimulate) or dynamiser (to rejuvenate).

And Snow White? In France she is Blanche Comme Neige and the dwarfs are Prof (Doc), Timide (Bashful) Atchoum (Sneezy), Joyeux (Happy), Dormeur (Sleepy), Grincheux (Grumpy) and Simplet (Dopey).

Use it like this

La France dispose d’un plan national pour doper une énergie renouvelable prometteuse : la géothermie. – France has a national plan to boost a promising renewable energy: geothermal.

Les récentes réductions d’impôts et certaines autres mesures prévues sont destinées à doper l’emploi. – The recent tax cuts and other measures planned are intended to boost employment.