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French expression of the day: Coureur de jupons

If you've been reading any tributes to the late French president Jacques Chirac it probably won't be long before you arrive at this phrase.

French expression of the day: Coureur de jupons

Why do I need to know courer de jupons?

It's a slightly old fashioned phrase, but one that has been liberally scattered around the French press this week to describe the late president.

What does it mean?

Its literal translation is 'petticoat runner' but it's probably best translated as 'skirt chaser' or womaniser. Many tributes to the former French president have used it to describe the fact that Chirac apparently enjoyed the company of a pretty lady or two.

So for example a profile in French newspaper Sud Ouest included the line : “Les femmes, justement. Elles étaient l’une des passions de Jacques Chirac, grand coureur de jupons.”

“The women, that's just it. They were one of the passions of Jacques Chirac, a great skirt-chaser.”


If you want to use it yourself to describe someone, you could say: “Il a la réputation d'un coureur de jupons” – “He is a known womaniser.”

The phrase is probably a little old fashioned nowadays, but is certain to be wheeled out from time to time to describe high profile Frenchmen from a certain era when it seems that womanising was practically compulsory.

Jacques Chirac, according to the French press, was something of a coureur de jupons. Photo: AFP

For more French words and expressions, check out our French word of the Day section.


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For members


French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

You'll want to be sure to only use this French expression in the right contexts.

French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

Why do I need to know les toxicos?

Because you might want to avoid using this term if you simply want to describe someone as behaving in a toxic manner.

What does it mean?

Les toxicos roughly pronounced lay tox-ee-kohs – is the French slang term to describe “drug addict”.

The English equivalent might be “junkie”.

The word comes from a French word for drug addiction more generally. “Toxicomanie” refers to the physical and/or psychological dependence on chemical substances without prescription or therapeutic justification.

The official term for a person addicted to substances is “toximane” – and les toxicos is a shortened, more informal version of the term. 

In French, you can also use the term “dépendance” to refer to addiction as well.

READ MORE: French Expression of the Day: Les stups

Some may use this term in a derogatory way, though its usage depends on context and the person speaking.

Use it like this

Le politicien a critiqué le manque de financement de la police et a cité le fait qu’il y avait trop de toxicos près de la gare. – The politician criticised a lack of funding for police and cited the fact that there were too many drug addicts by the train station.

L’homme m’a dit que je devais faire attention en traversant le parc car il y avait beaucoup de toxicos, mais je me sentais en sécurité.– The man told me that I should be careful when crossing the park because there are many junkies, but I felt safe.