French expression of the day: Coup de pouce

French expression of the day: Coup de pouce
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
In French, a thumb can be all you need.

Why do I need t know coup de pouce?

Because it's common and there's no good literal English translation.

What does it mean?

Coup is a versatile French word that can mean a lot of different things depending on the context, while pouce is French for 'thumb'.

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Literally coup de pouce therefore translates as 'stroke of thumb', 'blow of thumb' or 'knock of thumb' – none of which makes a lot of sense.

But the expression coup de pouce really refers to giving someone or something a 'boost', 'nudge' or 'helping hand', although coupe de main is more common for the latter.

Coup de pouce is often used about financial aid or economic situations, combined with the verb donner (to give).

Donner un coup de pouce – to give a helping hand/ to boost.

For example, the French government has set in place a bike repair scheme called Coup de pouce vélo (Bike boost), which aims to get more commuters to pick the bike over other means of transport to get around.

READ ALSO: How to get €50 to cover the cost of your bike repairs in France


Use it like this

L'industrie française aurait vraiment besoin d'un coup de pouce en ce moment suite à la crise sanitaire. – French industry could really use some help right now.

Le déconfinement a tout de suite donné un coup de pouce à l'économie. – The lifting of lockdown gave the economy a boost straight away.

Le gouvernement français a donné un coup de pouce aux petites entreprises à travers du fonds de solidarité. – The French government helped small businesses through the solidarity fund.


Coup de main – helping hand

Aide – help

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