For members


French expression of the day: Coup de pouce

In French, a thumb can be all you need.

French expression of the day: Coup de pouce
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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'.

READ ALSO: The French word that can mean a drink, a punch, a helping hand and much more beside


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

Member comments

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


French Word of the Day: Doper

This French word does not have anything to do with one of Snow White’s seven dwarves, even if it might look like it.

French Word of the Day: Doper

Why do I need to know doper?

Because you may not have realised you can use this word in several different contexts.

What does it mean?

Doper roughly pronounced doe-pay – shares the same meaning as the English word “to dope” – in the sense that it means taking or giving a stimulant before a sporting event or competition. 

It doesn’t carry the English sense of ‘to sedate’, however, nor is it used as a nickname for marijuana. 

In French this word is not only used when describing an athlete who has resorted to unfair methods to win. In fact, you will see this word in many other contexts as well because doper also means to stimulate or boost something in a generic sense. 

If you open a business newspaper in France, you might see an article using doper in the headline – perhaps one that discusses how the government plans to stimulate a dying sector of the economy.

If you want a synonym for doper, you can still use the verb stimuler (to stimulate) or dynamiser (to rejuvenate).

And Snow White? In France she is Blanche Comme Neige and the dwarfs are Prof (Doc), Timide (Bashful) Atchoum (Sneezy), Joyeux (Happy), Dormeur (Sleepy), Grincheux (Grumpy) and Simplet (Dopey).

Use it like this

La France dispose d’un plan national pour doper une énergie renouvelable prometteuse : la géothermie. – France has a national plan to boost a promising renewable energy: geothermal.

Les récentes réductions d’impôts et certaines autres mesures prévues sont destinées à doper l’emploi. – The recent tax cuts and other measures planned are intended to boost employment.