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French phrase of the day: Taper du poing sur la table

French phrase of the day: Taper du poing sur la table
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Why, sometimes in France, it's crucial to know how to bang your fist on the table.

Why do I need to know taper du poing sur la table?

Because it is a common expression that sounds a bit more aggressive than it is.

What does it mean?

Taper du poing sur la table directly translates as ‘to bang your fist on the table’, le poing being the French term for 'fist'.

As you may have guessed, this is a metaphor. It means to 'make one's opinion known' or to ‘put one’s foot down'.

It's different from taper du pied (stamp one's foot), which implies being annoyed or angry. Taper du poing doesn't necessarily imply anger, but it does have a degree of brashness to it. Imagine someone actually slamming their hand on the table to make their point – that's the essence of the expression.

Sometimes it's shortened to just taper du poing (fist-banging).

Taper du poing sur la table is a good one to use when talking about politics. If the president has had the last word on a decision, you will likely see headlines like “Macron tape du poing sur la table” shortly after.

It's not necessarily a compliment. Obviously when it's used about the president it shows leadership and firmness, but it can also be a way to say that someone is pushing their opinions through just because they're the most outspoken person in the room.

However if you've been to a French dinner you will know that sometimes a little fist-banging is necessary.

OPINION: Why arguing over the dinner table is a crucial skill in France

Use it like this

Le président a tapé du poing sur la table, il veut éviter un nouveau confinement à tout prix. – The president put his foot down, he wants to avoid another lockdown at all costs.

Au boulot, il faut savoir taper du poing sur la table. Sinon personne ne t'écoutera. – At work, you have to be able to clearly state your views. Otherwise no one will listen to you.

Je suis désolée, mais je dois taper mon poing sur la table. – I’m sorry, but I have to put my foot down.


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