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French word of the day: Tac

It’s got nothing to do with Tic-Tacs but will bring about a feeling of completeness.

French word of the day: Tac

Why do I need to know tac?

You don’t, but it makes you sound very French and it’s a pretty satisfying sound to make. Just try.

What does it mean? 

Like pfffbahoh là là, hopla and miamtac is not itself a word.

It is another example of a très français sound that is incorporated in the French language to such a degree that people will say it on autopilot – sometimes even without noticing it.

Imagine that you’re entering a nightclub, and the bouncer gives your hand a stamp before you walk in the door.

Et tac! he might say as the stamp hits your hand. Literally translated to ‘and tac’, it is like saying ‘there you go’.

How do I use it?

A Metro employee could say tac – tac – tac – tac while flipping through your tickets. In this example, tac is used to verify that all the tickets are there.

You may also use it to conclude an action, the same way as voilà.

For example, a waiter who is getting an extra chair for a table at a restaurant might, as he puts the chair down, say tac!, just as well as he could say voilà!.

Forgot to put the peanut butter out for breakfast? No worries, I'll get it. Eeeet tac (peanut butter hits the table).

Tac is like saying 'check' in English. You use it to say that an action is completed.

Planning on reading The Local's French word of the day? 

Tac. – Done. 

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French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Though this phrase has a close English equivalent, it's just so much more poetic in French

French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Why do I need to know les grands esprits se rencontrent?

Because you might want to use this phrase the next time you and a friend have the same idea for how to spend vacation.

What does it mean?

Les grands esprits se rencontrent – usually pronounced lay grand eh-spreets suh rahn-cahn-truh – literally translates to “the great minds meet each other” or “the great spirits meet each other.” More appropriately, the very poetic phrase in French translates to the English expression “great minds think alike.” 

For the French phrase, it actually finds its origins with Voltaire. In 1760, he wrote a letter to another well-known French writer at the time and included the phrase: “Les beaux esprits se rencontrent” (the beautiful minds meet each other) to emphasise the fact that both expressed the same idea at the same time.

Over time, the phrase switched from ‘beautiful’ minds to ‘great’ minds, but the meaning remains the same. The phrase is usually said ironically in French, and can be used more or less interchangeably with the English version of this expression (which curiously has different origins altogether). However, sadly, the French version does not include the snarky reply: “and fools seldom differ” 

Use it like this

J’avais envie de pizza pour le dîner mais je lui ai demandé ce qu’il voulait quand même et il a dit pizza. Les grands esprits se rencontrent ! – I was wanting pizza for dinner, but I asked him what he wanted anyways, and he said pizza. Great minds think alike!

Nous pensons tous deux que la vue de Paris depuis le Belvédère de Belleville est la meilleure de la ville. Les grands esprits se rencontrent. – We both think that the view of Paris from Belvédère de Belleville is the best of the city. Great minds think alike.