French word of the Day: Psy

French word of the Day: Psy
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
If you want to truly go native in France then you might need to see one of these - and no, we're not talking about the Korean singer.

Why do I need to know psy?

It's a common abbreviation which seems particularly pertinent right now.

What does it mean?

Psy is an abbreviation of psychiatre (psychiatrist) or psychologue (psychologist) or a more general term for anyone employed within the profession of psychology or counselling.

It is commonly used in everyday conversation in France is roughly the same way as 'shrink' in English.

Its pronunciation can catch language learners out.

Firstly it rhymes with 'me' not with 'pie' and secondly the 'p' is more or less silent, but has a very soft presence at the beginning of the word. 

Check out the video below for some examples of the 'ps' sound in French.


It's an informal abbreviation, but it's not offensive and in fact it's even been used by the government recently with a 'chèque psy' scheme for students – essentially vouchers to allow any students struggling with lockdown to get free access to counselling or psychological help.

Seeing a psy is common in France and there's no sense of shame attached to it – a YouGov poll from 2017 showed that one third of French people had been to a psychologist and France has one of the highest number of psychologists per 100,000 people in Europe.

READ ALSO Why do so many French people see a 'shrink'?

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See also on The Local:

All of which means you are likely to hear people talking about it if you're chatting to French friends.

Use it like this

Apéro vendredi? Je ne peux pas, j'ai un rendez-vous avec mon psy – Drinks on Friday? I can't, I have an appointment with my shrink

Il proteste un peu trop, nous dirait un psy – He's protesting a little too much, a shrink would tell us

Trouver le temps de voir mon psy entre les rendez-vous avec mon avocat pour le divorce – c'est ma vie maintenant – Finding the time to see my analyst in between appointments with the divorce lawyer – that's my life right now




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