For members


French word of the day: PQ

This is something that has significantly increased its market value over the past months.

French word of the day: PQ
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know PQ?

Somehow it became an unlikely gold standard since the coronavirus epidemic pushed France and other countries into lockdown.

What does it mean?

Perhaps you already guessed it. PQ is slang for papier toilette – toilet paper.

P stands for papier and Q stands for cul, which means 'arse'. 
Since France entered a strict nationwide lockdown on March 17th, PQ has become more popular – both as an expression and just in general.
PQ is the thing you really don't want to run out of. 
So, while France didn't quite seen the panic buying seen all over the world, the French too stocked up on toilet paper just before the lockdown entered into force, fearing they might soon find themselves running low.

Use it like this

Tu as acheté du PQ ? Did you get PQ?

Je pense qu’on a du PQ pour toute l’année, là. – I think we have enough toilet paper for the rest of the year now.

Pierre est fou, il a stocké du PQ comme un malade. Il pourra rester en confinement jusqu'au décembre. – Pierre is crazy, he stocked up on loo roll like a maniac. He'll be able to stay in lockdown until December if necessary.
Papier toilette – toilet paper
Papier hygiénique – toilet paper
Un rouleau de papier toilette – loo roll

Member comments

  1. It makes me think if the English phrase, “mind youur P’s and Q’s”, which means mind your manners. The derivation of this English phrase is essentially unknown and it is not initials for something.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

A daube is a delicious and hearty French stew - but this expression is not something that you would aspire to.

French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

Why do I need to know c’est de la daube?

Because you might want to express your strong opinion on a movie/book/TV show you’ve just watched in informal but relatively polite society.

What does it mean?

C’est de la daube  – pronounced say de la dorb – translates as ‘it’s a piece of crap’ (rubbish, while a perfectly reasonable alternative, just doesn’t quite cut it) and is perfect for use in discussions about books, films and TV shows … there’s even a book about cinema called C’est de la daube (Chroniques de cinéma)

The phrase can also be used to describe things that have little value and can be discarded after use – or, basically, anything you want to describe as ‘crap’.

Famously, daube is a classic Provençal stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence, and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan. The question, then, is how a delicious and hearty stew came to be used to describe something cheap and nasty and best avoided.

It’s thought that this phrase has its origins in the kitchen. According to Gaston Esnault in his “dictionnaire des argots”, ‘daube’ in this less-savoury context is a 19th-century word of Lyon origin to describe fruits and meat as being ‘spoiled’, applied to fruits and meats.

Notoriously, French programmers who like the Linux system often refer to Windows as Windaube…

Use it like this

C’est de la daube cette film – it’s crap, this film

Ton opinion, c’est de la daube – your opinion is rubbish