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French word of the day: Môme

If you’ve watched the Academy Award winning movie starring Marion Cotillard you've probably already heard this word, but do you really know what it means?

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

Why do I need to know môme?

Because it is one of the many ways to describe a child in French.

What does it mean?

Môme is one of the many colloquial terms French has for 'child'.

Though the dictionary of Le Parisien defines it as “a young child between two and five years old”, it is common to use the term from birth to adolescence, although you wouldn't use it in a formal situation.

In the 1960s, the word was also used to designate a mistress or a girlfriend. C’est ta môme would then mean “it’s your girlfriend”. Léo Ferré even made a song about it and Jolie Môme is today considered to be one of his most well-know creations. You're probably better steering clear of this to describe your significant other these days though.

La Môme was also the nickname of French singer Edith Piaf. She was called this because of her petite figure – the result of a tough and often malnourished childhood – meant she could easily pass for a little girl.

Use it like this

J’ai déposé les mômes à l’école – I dropped off the kids at school

Il y a des mômes partout aujourd’hui – There are kids everywhere today

T’es un vrai môme – You’re such a child


Enfant – Child

Bambin – Toddler

Mioche – Kid (informal)

Moutard – Sprog (informal)

Chiard – Literally a “pooper” (vulgar)

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French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

You'll definitely need this phrase as the temperature rises.

French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

Why do I need to know faire trempette?

Because you might need this phrase to describe that urge to jump in the water once the temperature hits a certain degree this summer.

What does it mean?

Faire trempette – usually pronounced fair trahm-pet – literally means ‘to make dipping sauce’ because the word ‘trempette’ is actually a condiment, or a dip, typically used for raw vegetables. In Canada, the dip is popular, and quite similar to Ranch dressing – a great addition to your crudités (vegetable snacks). 

But this phrase does not have anything to do with your healthy finger-food – in the colloquial sense, the phrase faire trempette actually means to take a dip – as in to go swimming.  

The way the expression came to become about swimming and not eating is pretty logical – in the 1600s a ‘trempette’ was a slice of bread dipped in liquid. As time went on people started to say ‘faire la trempette’ to describe the action of dipping food in liquid – like bread into wine – prior to taking a bite.

It became the metaphorical way of talking about taking a very short bath in the 19th century and now it’s the best way to reference the urge to  splash around for a second before heading back to the lounge chairs to tan. 

While you may  not have heard of this phrase before, you’ve definitely heard its synonym: the verb ‘se baigner’ (‘to bathe,’ but more so used as ‘to swim’). 

Use it like this

Comme la température augmente, je suis encore plus tentée d’aller faire trempette dans le canal. – As the temperature gets higher, I am even more tempted to go take a dip in the canal. 

Je pense que je vais faire trempette et ensuite m’allonger pour bronzer au soleil pendant un moment. – I think I will take a dip and then lay out to tan for a bit.