French word of the day: Coucou

French word of the day: Coucou
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Want an alternative to the endless bonjours in France?

Why do I need to know coucou?

It’s such a common word in France that you want to at least avoid the confusion of thinking that someone is yelling 'cuckoo' when they’re actually just saying hello.

What does it mean?

Coucou is a way of saying hello in French, similar to salut – hi.

French dictionary Larousse defines it as a way to “cheerfully attract someone's attention when you show up by surprise.”

It's less formal than bonjour, so if a French person tells you coucou it means that they are considering that you are on pretty equal social footing.

You don't say coucou to your boss, unless you are on extraordinarily good terms. You may, however, use it with friends or even colleagues that you're close with.

Coucou is also a common way for adults to address children in France.

French people coo more than say coucou. Some people really linger on that last ou, which others may find annoying. 

Whether coucou is a socially acceptable way of greeting someone or just annoying baby talk has long been a matter of discussion.

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