French word of the day: Chauve-souris

It's got nothing to do with baldness.

French word of the day: Chauve-souris
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know chauve-souris?

They're scary, or cute, depending on your point of view. Find them in Transylvanian castles, Gotham City or, more likely, on an evening stroll through the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in Paris. There's 34 species of them in France…

What does it mean?

You've probably guessed it, chauve-souris means 'bat'.

When you break it down though, what you're saying literally means bald (chauve) mouse (souris).

Bald mice might sound like an odd name for bats, but there may be a reason behind it. The theory goes that bats were originally referred to in Latin as 'owl mice', which makes more sense given their nocturnal lifestyle. However at some point the Latin word for owl (cavannus) got mixed up with the world for bald (calvus) and that distortion made its way into the French we speak today.


The fancy, technical name for chauve-souris is chiroptera, but that's used mainly in a scientific context.

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French Expression of the Day: Ça tape

The long-range forecast suggests that this will be a handy phrase this summer.

French Expression of the Day: Ça tape

Why do I need to know ça tape?

Because you might want a way to describe the feeling of walking down a long boulevard with no shade in sight…or a techno concert.

What does it mean?

Ça tape usually pronounced sah tap – literally translates to ‘it taps’ or ‘it hits.’ The verb being used is taper, which means to hit or slap, and colloquially can be used to seek monetary support from someone. It is also the verb for ‘to type.’ But when spoken, this phrase does not involve violence, financial assistance, or note-taking.

Ça tape is a way to say ‘it’s scorching’ and complain about the hot weather or the search for shade. If someone uses it under a hot sun, and they say “ça tape”  or “ça tape fort” they’re referring to the particularly violent, piercing heat.

It can also be used to say something is intense, particularly in relation to music. It bears a similar colloquial meaning to the English informal phrase “it hits” or “it’s banging.” For example, you might be at a loud concert listening to a particularly passionate DJ – this might be a good scenario to employ ‘ça tape.’

The first meaning, which refers to the heat, is more commonly used across generations, whereas the second might be heard more from a younger audience. 

 Use it like this

Dès que je suis sortie de l’appartement et que je suis entrée dans la rue, j’ai dit “Ça tape !” car le soleil était si fort.– As soon as I stepped out of the apartment and into the street, I said to myself “it’s blazing!” because the sun was so strong.

Ce festival est incroyable, tout le monde est dans le même esprit. Ouh t’entends cette basse ? Ça tape !  – This festival is amazing, everyone is really in the same mood. Do you hear that bass? It’s banging.