French word of the day: Croche-pied

French word of the day: Croche-pied
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
If you want to speak French like a seasoned sports commentator, this is one for you.

Why do I need to know croche-pied?

Croche-pied is an expression you will need when watching a football or basketball game with French friends (and is was also the recent source of a huge controversy in France).

What does it mean?

Croche-pied means tripping someone over, usually by sticking out your own leg.

Like this:


Or this:


It's perhaps best translated to ‘hook-foot’ (which, you must admit, is a canny way of saying 'trip over' someone).

If you're an outraged football fan who thinks the referee should have called what you deem to be a huge foul, you might shout:

Non, mais il y a faute là ! Il est aveugle ou quoi, l'arbitre ? On lui a fait un gros croche-pied! – What, that was such a huge foul! Is the referee blind or what? He was tripped over on purpose!

If you accidentally tripped someone over, you may excuse yourself like this:

Désolée, je t'ai fait un croche-pied par accident. – I'm really sorry, I tripped you over without meaning too.


So we've established that croche-pied is a fun expression, but its synonyms are just as fun:

Croche-patte – refers to the same act, but patte means 'paw' and not 'foot'

Jambette – from jambe ('leg'), making someone fall over by using your leg.

Croc-en-jambe – also means the same. Croc refers to a hook.

Don't use it like this

This particular croche-pied by a police officer sparked a storm of criticism:



The video, published mid January, showed a police officer in Toulouse tripping over a female protester.

It sparked Interior Minister Christophe Castaner to make a rare public criticism of the country's police officers, saying that “on ne fait pas croche-pied a la justice” – 'you don't trip over justice'.

In this sense, croche-pied referred to both the act of tripping the woman over, and the police officer's negligence of his public duty.

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