French Expression of the Day: Une chance de cocu

If you needed any more proof the French language is full of traps and absurd expressions, 'une chance de cocu' is here to do just that.

French Expression of the Day: Une chance de cocu

Why do I need to know avoir une chance de cocu?

It may come in handy next time you are losing to a game of cards. Most importantly, if you happen to have une chance de cocu lately, French logic would want you to do some thinking about the state of your relationship.

What does it mean?

Avoir une chance de cocu means being extremely lucky. Literally, the expression translates to being as lucky as a cuckold.

While seemingly paradoxical, the idea conveyed by this saying is quite simple: if you are unlucky enough to be cheated on, you cannot possibly be followed by misfortune in everything you do. The luck basically makes up for the betrayal endured by the cuckold.

So it's quite similar to Heureux au jeu, malheureux en amour – Lucky at cards, unlucky in love which is used in both French and English.

How do I use it?

Traditionally, the expression used to refer to men being cheated on only, but ended up including women as well.

The only thing that changes is the spelling of the word cocu, which will take an 'e' when talking about a woman, une cocue.

Il a gagné €1000 au casino hier. Il a vraiment une chance de cocu! – He won €1,000 at the casino yesterday. He really is as lucky as a cuckold!

However, une chance de cocu is not exclusively dedicated to gambling and card games, as the saying can also be used in everyday life.

Son téléphone est tombé du premier étage et fonctionne encore. Une chance de cocue, je te dis! – Her phone fell from the first floor and is still working. As lucky as a cuckold, I'm telling you!

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French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.