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French word of the day: Croche-pied

If you want to speak French like a seasoned sports commentator, this is one for you.

French word of the day: Croche-pied
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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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For members


French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.