For members


French word of the day: Couvre-feu

It's a authoritarian practice mostly associated with war that has suddenly reentered the vocab of modern democracies - France included.

French word of the day: Couvre-feu
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know courvre-feu?

Because your city may be installing it in the future (if it hasn’t already). 

What does it mean?

Couvre-feu means ‘curfew’, but not in the “teenager having to be home by 10pm” sense. A couvre-feu bans anyone in a given area from exiting their homes between certain times (usually late at night until early morning).

Although it's an authoritarian practice mostly associated with wars that would not usually fly in modern democracies, more than 20 cities in France have now imposed couvre-feux in their respective areas.


They have done so in an effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus, the highly contagious virus that is circulating actively on the entire French territory and putting huge pressure on the country’s health system.

Many are asking: est-ce qu'on va vers un couvre-feu national? – Are we headed towards a nationwide curfew?

If the government decides to implement a national couvre-feu, it would be a move unseen in modern peacetime. 

The last time France saw such an extensive couvre-feu was when Nazi Germany occupied the country during World War II. 

There have been episodes of couvre-feux since on the French territory (like after the 2005 riots in a Parisian banlieue), but these have been limited to very specific areas and happened on a much smaller scale than what the country is seeing now.


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For members


French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

You'll want to be sure to only use this French expression in the right contexts.

French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

Why do I need to know les toxicos?

Because you might want to avoid using this term if you simply want to describe someone as behaving in a toxic manner.

What does it mean?

Les toxicos roughly pronounced lay tox-ee-kohs – is the French slang term to describe “drug addict”.

The English equivalent might be “junkie”.

The word comes from a French word for drug addiction more generally. “Toxicomanie” refers to the physical and/or psychological dependence on chemical substances without prescription or therapeutic justification.

The official term for a person addicted to substances is “toximane” – and les toxicos is a shortened, more informal version of the term. 

In French, you can also use the term “dépendance” to refer to addiction as well.

READ MORE: French Expression of the Day: Les stups

Some may use this term in a derogatory way, though its usage depends on context and the person speaking.

Use it like this

Le politicien a critiqué le manque de financement de la police et a cité le fait qu’il y avait trop de toxicos près de la gare. – The politician criticised a lack of funding for police and cited the fact that there were too many drug addicts by the train station.

L’homme m’a dit que je devais faire attention en traversant le parc car il y avait beaucoup de toxicos, mais je me sentais en sécurité.– The man told me that I should be careful when crossing the park because there are many junkies, but I felt safe.