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French word of the day: Pécho

This versatile verb will sometimes make you blush.

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

Why do I need to know pécho?

If you understand pécho, you will be able to navigate a crucial part of French slang culture.

What does it mean?

Pécho is an example of verlan, which is French argot constructed by reversing the order of syllables in a word.

(The word verlan itself is an example of verlan  l'envers means 'the inverse'.)

Young people are avid users of verlan, and sometimes verlan words – like pécho – are examples of slang of slang. It's all pretty cryptic so it's ok if you're already dizzy.

To clarify, pécho is verlan of choper, which means 'to grab' or 'catch'.

Il faut que je m'en aille, je dois choper le metro. – I have to go, I need to catch the metro.

But choper can also mean 'making out', 'hook up' or 'seduce', although people tend to use pécho more for this purpose.

On s'est pécho.  – We made out.

Use it like this

Pécho – like choper – therefore has two main meanings, 'take'/'grab'/'catch' and 'make out'/'hook up'/'seduce'.  

French people tend to use choper more when talking about 'taking' something, while pécho is more common when talking about romantic successes. There is even a French movie called T'as pécho ? (Have you made out?).

Tu es au courant qu'il se sont pécho vendredi ? – Are you aware that they hooked up on Friday?

Gilles n'est pas encore sorti de sa chambre, je crois qu'il à pécho en boite hier soir. – Gilles hasn't come out of his room yet, I think he picked somebody up at the club last night.

You can of course also use pécho when talking about 'catching' or 'taking' something too:

Il s'est fait pécho par sa mère. – He was caught by his mother.

For more pécho.. 

For those especially interested in French slang, the 2016 French film Five (trailer below) has recently arrived on Netflix. It's a lighthearted and easily digestible film whose cast of young Parisians use a lot of verlan and other slang so it's a great way to increase your vocab (even during the summer heat).

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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