For members


French word of the day: Saucer

This little word has a big cultural lesson, which is key learning for foreigners in France (and no, it's not crockery).

French word of the day: Saucer
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know saucer?

Because it describes an important French everyday activity.

What does it mean?

In French saucer is a verb, unlike in English where a saucer is something that goes with a cup for serving a nice cup of tea.

The verb saucer directly translates as ‘to sauce’ while the noun la sauce in French means ‘sauce’ or salad dressing.

Saucer is a versatile verb (France loves its sauces) in food related settings, and it can refer to anything from pouring sauce over a plate to dipping bread in a bowl of soup, depending on the context. 

But saucer son assiette (to sauce your plate) refers to the very French activity of mopping up the remains on your plate with a piece of bread. French online dictionary l’Internaute defines it as “using bread to rid the plate from leftover sauce”. 

If you have been to France or spent time with French people, you will undoubtedly have seen people do this. Some cultures regard it as bad manners, but smearing your bread around the edges of your plate it perfectly acceptable in France – it’s just a sign that you appreciated your meal.

READ ALSO The French eating habits the world should learn from

Bread is a key element to French meals and there’s a long list of dos and don’ts for how you treat it. The French rip the baguette rather than cut it, and when you eat dinner you’ll generally break your piece into smaller pieces that you then use to sauce up the little bits your cutlery can’t catch.

READ ALSO: Baguettiquette: Weird things the French do with bread

When a plate is saucé, it is ‘mopped’.

Use it like this

J’adore saucer mon assiette. Je trouve que c’est le meilleur moment du repas. – I love mopping my plate, for me it’s the best bit of the meal.

Les anglais ne saucent pas leurs assiettes, c’est mal vu là-bas. – In England people don’t mop their plates, it’s considered bad manners over there.

Les plats sont saucés, il ne reste plus rien. – The plates are mopped, there’s nothing left.


Tremper – to dip

Eponger – to mop

Essuyer – to wipe

Member comments

  1. This is not considered entirely bad if it is done with a bit of flair. That is using a fork to hold the bread and then sweeping the plate. Doing it while holding the bread with your fingers is rather crude.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener