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French expression of the day: Rater le coche

French expression of the day: Rater le coche
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Why it really sucks to miss out on those horse carriages in France.

Why do I need to know rater le coche?

Because it’s useful, but also teaches you something about French history.

What does it mean?

Rater le coche translates as ‘to miss the mark’,

Cocher is a French verb that means ‘to tick’ a box. When you fill out forms in France, you are often asked to cocher whether you are male or female, whether you have children etc.

But un coche also refers to those horse carriages that used to transport people back in the day before cars took over.

The coche was the most popular means of transport back in the 17th and 18th century, according to French online dictionary l’Internaute. They left at specific times, so the expression rater le coche is kind of a centuries-old variant of ‘missing the boat’.

This expression is useful whenever a good opportunity is lost.

Anyone can rater le coche, so just adapt the verb rater – a straightforward ER-verb that’s easy to conjugate – to whoever missed the opportunity, and which tense it was missed.

You can also replace rater by manquer or louper, both of which means ‘to miss’.

Use it like this

Le gouvernement a totalement raté le coche avec leur confinement beaucoup trop tardif. – The government totally missed the boat with their lockdown that came much too late.

Il ne faut pas qu’on rate le coche ce soir, les gars. Ce match est crucial ! – We mustn’t miss out tonight, guys. This match is crucial!

Je pensais aller chez le coiffeur avant, mais j’ai été trop occupé et maintenant c’est trop tard, j’ai raté le coche. – I was planning on seeing the hairdresser before, but I was too busy and now it’s too late, I missed the boat.

Synonyms

Rater le but – miss the goal

Louper le but – miss the goal


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