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French phrase of the day: Coûte que coûte

When something is really worth it in France..

French phrase of the day: Coûte que coûte
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know coûte que coûte ?

Because it is timely, but also generally useful to know.

What does it mean?

Not to be confused with croûte – the delicious 'crust' of a bread or baguette – coûte means 'cost' as in the verb coûter, 'to cost'.

Coûte que coûte directly translates as 'costs what costs', but means 'at all costs' or 'whatever it takes' and this doesn't just encompass financial costs.

It is a phrase to use about tasks that look difficult to accomplish, but which you're willing to get done – no matter what.

Coûte que coûte been frequently used in France lately, as, Covid oblige (Covid obliges), we find ourselves in a situation where many things are more difficult than usual.

The government wants to avoid mass bankruptcies, coûte que coûte. If that means pumping out state money to keep business afloat throughout the crisis, then so be it.

Ski enthusiasts want to take their February holiday in the mountains, coûte que coûte. It doesn't matter that the lifts are closed, strap your skis on the back and walk up the mountain.

France also wants to keep its schools open, coûte que coûte. If that means school children have to be regularly mass-tested for the virus, then that's worth it.

Use it like this

Il faut absolument qu'on s'achête un appartement à un moment, coûte que coûte. On ne pourra pas louer eternellement. – We absolutely have to buy an apartment at some point, whatever it takes. We can't rent forever.

Qui va payer pour cette politique de 'coûte que coûte' ? – Who will pay for this politics of 'whatever the cost'?

Avec la crise Covid, on a vu l'importance d'avoir un système hospitalier solide, coûte que coûte. – With the Covid crisis, we've seen the importance of having a solid hospital system, whatever the costs.


À tout prix – at all costs

Quoi qu'il en coûte – whatever it costs

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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.