For members


French word of the day: Bim

Whether you want to prove a point or just add a bit of action to your story, bim is definitely a word you need to include in your vocabulary.

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

Why do I need to know bim?

Because the French language is all about punctuating sentences with random noises and emphasis words.    

What does it mean?

Bim (pronounced “beam”) does not really mean anything. It’s more of a sound you make at the beginning or the end of your sentence to give it a bit more life. Generally, brutality or at least some form of conflict is involved in the story being told.

The website of French encyclopaedia Universalis gives it this definition: “onomatopoeia implying a blow” or a word that sounds like what it is describing.

In this context in English you might say 'bam' to imply a blow or a hit and you will hear this a lot when listening to children playing as they re-enact battles or their favourite superhero movie.

But its popular with adults too and usually comes up during a debate or an argument, albeit not a physical one.

When you have proved the other person wrong, you can emphasise your victory with an et bim! that we could compare to an English 'take that' or 'in your face'.

Though it is colloquial, it is not a vulgar term.

Use it like this

Et là, bim, il est tombé ! – And then, bam, he fell 

Et bim, je savais que j’avais raison ! – I knew I was right, take that!


Boom – Bang

Et toc – So there you have it!  

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Surprisingly, this phrase has nothing to do with beekeeping.

French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Why do I need to know faire son miel?

Because you might want to describe how you were able to buy a new wardrobe after the airline lost your luggage.

What does it mean?

Faire son miel – usually pronounced fair soan mee-ell – literally means to make your honey, or to make your own honey. In practice, this phrase actually means to take advantage of a situation, usually by turning a profit or to get the most out of a situation. 

The phrase comes from the idea that bees are actually profiteers: they take advantage of flowers in order to make honey. In the 16th century, this phrase was first put into use, and it followed the idea that bees fly up to the innocent flowers and steal their nectar and pollen for their own purposes. People began to use this as a way to describe people who take advantage of others or particular situations for their own benefit, or those who take things that do not belong to them.

Though the phrase is tied to the idea of turning a situation around for your own benefit, it is does not necessarily have a negative connotation. It can be used both for physical profit, or intellectual. It is somewhat similar to the English phrase of ‘making lemonade from lemons’ – taking a bad situation and making something good out of it.

In fact, French actually has another phrase that is quite similar to this one: faire son beurre, which is potentially even older than faire son miel

Use it like this

La compagnie aérienne a perdu nos sacs, avec tous nos vêtements dedans. Nous avons pu faire notre miel de la situation et acheter un nouvel ensemble de meilleurs vêtements avec l’argent de la compagnie aérienne! – The airline lost our bags, with all our clothes inside. We were able to take advantage of the situation by buying a whole new wardrobe on their dime!

Les oiseaux font leur miel de tous les nouveaux arbres plantés dans la ville. Ils profitent de ce nouvel espace pour faire leurs nids. – The birds are taking advantage of all the new trees being planted across the city. They are enjoying the new space to build their nests.

Le politicien a fait son miel des fonds supplémentaires et en a utilisé une partie pour son propre projet de construction. Ils pourraient le mettre en procès pour corruption. – The politician took advantage of the extra public funds for his own construction project. They might put him on trial for corruption.