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French word of the Day: Chialer

French word of the Day: Chialer
If things aren't going to well (for example you're contemplating the roughly 1,000 extra people all trying to squeeze into your Metro carriage) you might be tempted to do a bit of this.
Why do I need to know chialer?
 
Chialer is part of the everyday language and is very common in informal situations.
 
What does it mean?
 
Chialer is more or less a synonym for pleurer (to cry), but chialer has a derogatory undertone. In fact, chialer implies that you are downplaying (or even mocking) a person's grief. In brief, you are not showing much empathy when using this word. An English equivalent might be blubbing or even whining.
 
Pierre n’arrête pas de chialer depuis que sa copine l’a quitté  – Pierre has been constantly blubbing since his girlfriend left him.
 
Mon gosse n’arrête pas de chialer  – My kid won’t stop crying
 
Chialer can also be used as a synonym for complaining, so you might translate it as whining or whingeing.
 
Arrête de chialer tout le temps! – Stop whingeing all the time!.
 
 
In this specific case, you might also use pleurnicher instead of chialer. Both words are informal and interchangeable (although French Canadians only use chialer in this specific context).
 
Origin of the word
 
The origin of chialer is quite unclear. According to French dictionary Larousse, this verb might derive from the Middle French word chiau meaning puppy. In short, chialer means “to weep like a puppy”.
 
Expressions
 
You can replace pleurer with chialer in any expression involving the first one.
 
For example the relatively common but bizarre phrase Pleurer/Chialer comme une madeleine –  To cry like a madeleine.
 
If you wish to express your total absence of empathy, you might say to your friend in tears:
 
Chiale/Pleure, tu pisseras moins – Cry, you will pee less.
 
However, we strongly advise you to refrain using this expression unless you want to give the impression of being a complete sociopath.
 
By Jean-Baptiste Andrieux

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