French Expression of the Day: Cul sec

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French Expression of the Day: Cul sec
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond"

If someone shouts this French expression at you, don't worry, they are not talking about your bottom.


Why do I need to know cul sec?

Because you might hear this expression when at a party or bar in France. 

What does it mean?

Cul sec directly translates as 'dry bottom', which sounds like an inappropriate thing to say in public, but actually it's a drinking term.

Although cul is often translated as 'arse' or 'butt' it can also mean the bottom of an object. So if someone in a bar shouts cul sec, they're not talking about the human cul, but rather the cul (bottom) of the drink. When the glass is sec (dry), the drink is gone.

READ ALSO: Cool cul: 13 of the best French ‘bottom’ expressions


French online dictionary l'Internaute defines cul sec as "boire un verre d'un seul trait, sans s'arrêter", which means "have a drink in one go, without stopping."

It's what in English is also known as 'chugging' or 'downing' a drink. Someone might say this to you in the imperative sense - like Cul sec ! which means "Down it!"

The full expression is faire cul sec (to do dry bottom) or boire cul sec (to drink dry bottom).

Cul sec isn't a vulgar expression, but if you're at a work party or with your French in-laws we suggest you refrain from downing your drink in one.

It might sound like the English phrase 'bottoms up', but in fact that is simply a toast, and doesn't mean that you have to down your drink in one. Interestingly, you might hear 'bottoms up' (in English) used as a toast in France, although in the English-speaking world it's pretty archaic.

More common options for a toast in France santé (good health) or tchin-tchin (cheers).

Here's a video of French president Emmanuel Macron doing a cul sec while helping the Toulouse rugby team celebrate their victory in the final of the Top 14 domestic championship.

Use it like this

On fait cul sec ? - Let's down it?

Allez les gars, cul sec ! – Come on guys, down it!  

Si tu perds, tu dois boire cul sec ton verre entier. - If you lose, you have to down your whole drink.


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