French word of the day: Coup de barre

French word of the day: Coup de barre
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This does not mean someone actually had a go at you with a metal rod, but it could mean you're feeling beaten.

Why do I need to know coup de barre?

Because sometimes tiredness can hit you like a metal rod.

What does it mean?

Coup de barre means ‘knock of bar’. 

Like the many French expressions that begin with coupcoup de coeur, coup de main, coup de bol, etc – the 'knock' or 'punch' is merely symbolic.

When used like this, coup can express the feeling of being suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling – like someone actually knocked you over the head.

A barre is a metal pole of some sort, like the bar you use to lift weights at the gym or hold onto on public transport, or what ballet dancers use during dance class.

Coup de barre refers to what French online dictionary l’Internaute calls “a sentiment de fatigue subite” – ‘feeling of sudden tiredness'.

Je ne sais pas ce que j’ai, j’ai un coup de barre – I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I feel exhausted all of a sudden

J’ai toujours un coup de barre après le déjeuner – I always get acutely tired after lunch

Quand il m'a dit qu'il fallait tout recommencer, ça m'a mis un coup de barre – When he told me that I needed to start from scratch I lost all motivation.


Coup de mou – feeling sluggish

Coup de pompe – hit by a shoe (feeling flat)

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