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French word of the day: Créneau

French word of the day: Créneau
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This little word is key for anyone on the lookout for available Covid-19 vaccination appointments.

Why do I need to know créneau?

Because it is timely, but also generally useful.

What does it mean?

Créneau is a French masculine noun – un créneau, le créneau, les créneaux – that pronounces ‘krenau’.

Generally créneau refers to an “available time interval in a timetable,” according to French online dictionary l’Internaute, which translates it to ‘window’ or ‘gap’ in English.

Another good English translation is ‘slot’, while créneau horaire means ‘time slot’. 

Créneau or créneau horaire are both synonymous for ouverture, ‘opening’, in French, as in a free opening where you can book an appointment. But you can use créneau or créneau horaire about any kind of time interval.

The terms are widely used in relation to France’s vaccination campaign against Covid-19. A lot of people will be looking for the next available créneaux when they can get inoculated.

Les créneaux libres means ‘free slots’, which are in shortage in France at the moment. Similarly, un créneau disponible refers to ‘an available slot’ where it is possible to make an appointment.

Use it like this

J’ai réussi à trouver un créneau disponible, donc j’irai me faire vacciner contre la Covid-19 demain matin. – I managed to find an available slot, so I will go get the Covid-19 vaccine tomorrow morning.

Il y a des créneaux libres cette semaine ? – Do you have any openings this week ? 

Ils n’avaient pas de créneaux horaires disponibles avant juin. – They didn’t have any time slots available until June.

Do not confuse it with..

The expression monter au créneau. Loosely translated as ‘climb the gap’, it actually means ‘to defend one’s position’ (or ‘step up’ in English). It is often used about politicians who dare to take a stand – and therefore expose themselves – rather than hide behind the créneaux, which in the Middle Ages referred to the walls where soldiers took cover as they defended their cities against enemies.


Member comments

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  1. My French wife says that it is also used in the expression for parallel parking – faire un creneau. Which is what I though I remembered from living in France 50 years ago.

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