French phrase of the day: Sous cloche

French phrase of the day: Sous cloche
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
We’re all feeling a bit disconnected from the outside world. Here's a useful expression to describe the current situation.

Why do I need to know sous cloche?

You might have noticed it being used a lot during the pandemic.

What does it mean?

Sous cloche literally means “under the bell” (cloche means bell). But this expression has nothing to do with church bells, if that's what you're imagining. It actually refers to the cloche used in agriculture and gardening: a bell-shaped glass covering for protecting plants from cold temperatures.

It can be used in a literal sense: to cover something, or put a cover over something to keep it safe. Food like fruit or cheese can be placed sous cloche to protect it from flies, for example.

But mettre sous cloche is often also used to talk about people, to say they are being protected or kept out of danger. It could be translated into English as “to keep safe” or “shield”. It has been used a lot during the pandemic to refer to the way we have had to be isolated from the outside world.

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See also on The Local:

Use it like this

Mettre le pays sous cloche pendant des mois aura des conséquences économiques et sociales – Shielding the population for months will have social and economic consequences

Les personnes âgées ont été mises sous cloche pendant la pandémie – The elderly have been shielded during the pandemic


Mettre à l’abri – to shelter


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