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French expression of the day: Jus de chaussette

In France, 'sock juice' is something you sometimes drink - even if you would prefer not to.

French expression of the day: Jus de chaussette
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know jus de chaussette?

It's a common, colloquial expression with a fascinating backstory, but which sounds quite odd when you don't know what it means.

What does it mean?

Jus de chaussette directly translates as ‘sock juice’ (jus is French for ‘juice’ and de chaussette means ‘of sock’).

Jus de chaussette is not however what the French call sweaty, smelly feet, but rather that a drink is weak – to the point that it tastes bad.

According to French online dictionary l’Internaute, the expression “implies that the liquid was not made with the necessary ingredients for the preparation of the beverage.”

It is a is a colloquial expression most commonly used about coffee – usually the brew from bad vending machines – which also was the drink at the origin of the expression.

At the end of the 19th Century, during the Franco-German war in the 1870s, soldiers lacking filters to brew their coffee used their socks instead.

The result was, the story goes, disgusting.

Jus de chaussette can also be used about something that's not edible, but that – figuratively speaking – leaves a bad aftertaste in the mouth.

Say you make a deal with someone and have to give up something that is important to you, or act contrary to your own values, tu as l'impression d'avoir avalé du jus de chaussette – you feel like you just drank sock juice.

Use it like this

On a bu leur jus de chaussette dégoûtant sans rien dire. – We drank their disgustingly weak coffee without saying anything.

Il faut éviter la machine à café au bureau, elle fait du jus de chaussette. – You should avoid the coffee machine at the office, it makes disgustingly weak coffee.

Avec cet accord de paix on a l’impression d’avoir ingurgité un jus de chaussette. – This peace accord makes us feel like we just chugged sock juice. 


Jus de vaisselle – Dish juice 


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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.