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French expression of the day: Crier cocorico

Feeling good about your achievements? It's time to celebrate like a rooster.

French expression of the day: Crier cocorico
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know crier cocorico?

Because it's a fun expression pepped up with added French patriotism.

What does it mean?

Crier is French for 'to shout' and cocorico is what French roosters say – cock-a-doodle-doo in English.

READ ALSO: Groin groin, coin coin and meuh – The weird things French animals say

So crier cocorico means 'to shout cock-a-doodle-doo', which sounds like something you would not do unless you are a rooster.

But earlier this week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said: “We will not yet shout cock-a-doodle-doo”.

It sounds like quite an odd thing for a PM to tell his people – unless you know the true meaning of the expression.


Crier cocorico is actually a French way of saying 'to celebrate' or 'to cry out victory'.

So NOT shouting cock-a-doodle-doo means to NOT celebrate – just yet.

Castex was talking about the Covid-19 health situation, which was looking much better than it had in recent weeks. But it was too early to celebrate, according to the PM. Hence the no-cocorico policy.

Anti-riot police officers evacuate a protester wearing a rooster hat in Avignon, southern France, on March 30th, 2019. Photo: AFP


As you may know, le coq gaulois – the Gallic rooster – is France's unofficial national symbol, and the shirts of many French national sports teams have tiny cockerels sewn on them.

Crier cocorico is a way of showing patriotism and Gallic pride, according to French language guardian Académie Française (8th edition).
Use it like this
Est-il trop tôt pour crier cocorico ? – Is it too early to cry out victory?
Je vous fais un petit cocorico parce que cette prestation est vraiment fomidable ! – I'm giving you a little shoutout because this performance is truly brilliant!
Il n'y a pas de quoi crier cocorico encore. Attendons les résultats. – There's nothing to celebrate just yet. Let's wait for the results.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

This might look like a mix of Spanish and French, but it is definitely not Franish.

French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

Why do I need to know mettre le holà?

Because you might need to do this if your friends go from laughing with you to laughing at you. 

What does it mean?

Mettre le holà – pronounced meh-truh luh oh-la – literally means to put the ‘holà’ on something. You might be thinking this must be some clever mix of Spanish and French, but ‘holà’ actually has nothing to do with the Spanish greeting. 

This expression is a way to say that’s enough – or to ‘put the brakes on something.’

If a situation appears to be agitated, and you feel the need to intervene in order to help calm things down, then this might be the expression you would use. Another way of saying it in English might be to ‘put the kibosh on it.’

While the origins of ‘kibosh’ appear to be unknown, ‘holà’ goes back to the 14th century in France. Back then, people would shout “Ho! Qui va là?” (Oh, who goes there?) as an interjection to call someone out or challenge them. 

Over time this transformed into the simple holà, which you might hear on the streets, particularly if you engage in some risky jaywalking. 

A French synonym for this expression is ‘freiner’ – which literally means ‘to break’ or ‘put the brakes on,’ and can be used figuratively as well as literally. 

Use it like this

Tu aurais dû mettre le holà tout de suite. Cette conversation a duré bien trop longtemps, et il était si offensif. – You should have put a stop to that immediately. That conversation went on for too long, and he was so offensive. 

J’ai essayé de mettre le holà à la blague sur ma mère, mais ils étaient sans pitié. – I tried to put a stop to the joke about my mother, but they were merciless.