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French word of the day: Epauler

French word of the day: Epauler
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
When French people give a shoulder, it's rarely cold. Here's why.

Why do I need to know épauler?

Because you don’t want to translate it into the English expression of ‘giving someone a cold shoulder’.

What does it mean?

Quite the opposite. Epauler literally means ‘to shoulder’, but it really is a way of expressing 'help', 'support' or 'backup'.

The English equivalent would be 'giving someone a leg-up' or 'having someone's back'.

It's a versatile verb and can also mean 'reinforce' or strengthen. Use it in the same way you would use soutenir (support) or donner un coup de main (giving a helping hand).

It's not quite the same as se serrer les coudes (locking elbows), which means 'standing together'. Both are actions of solidarity, they're just a little different. Whereas se serrer les coudes is about helping each other, épauler implies someone helping someone else.

Use it like this

Je t'épaules. – I've got your back.

Tu m'épaules ? – You've got my back?
 
Ne t'inquiètes pas, on va t'épauler. – Don't worry, we'll help you.
 
Tous les jours après l'école il épaulait ses parents en faisant les ménages. – Every day after school he helped his parents by cleaning the house.
 
Le gouvernement français a mis en place plusieurs mesures pour épauler les entreprises impactées par le coronavirus. – The French government has put in place a series of measures to support business affected by the coronavirus.
 
Synonyms
 
Soutenir – support
 
Appuyer – back up
 
Assister – assist
 
Donner un coup de main – giving a helping hand

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