For members


Word of the day: Piqûre

You may have heard this word quite a lot recently, but it has various different meanings.

Word of the day: Piqûre
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know piqûre?

This word is on everyone’s lips right now as France continues to ramp up its vaccine rollout.

What does it mean?

Piqûre is the informal word for an injection.

It’s the equivalent of jab or shot in English: the conversational term being used to talk about the Covid-19 vaccine, while une injection is generally the word being used in news reports and formal settings.

In the tweet below, a grateful vaccine recipient says: “I will never forget this difficult year, but thanks to this painless little shot I can finally see the sky clearing.”

However, piqûre is also the word for a sting or a bite from an insect or a plant. Une piqûre d’abeille is a bee sting, while une piqûre de moustique is a mosquito bite.

Finally, in sewing, la piqûre means the stitching or the thread on a piece of clothing.

Use it like this

Ma mère a reçu sa première piqûre – My mother has had her first jab

C’était rapide, la piqûre ne fait pas mal du tout – It was quick, the injection didn’t hurt at all

Je me suis fait piquer par une guêpe au bord de la piscine – I was stung by a wasp by the pool

La piqûre de sa chemise était décousue – The stitching on his shirt had come undone


injection – injection

point – sewing stitch

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

This might look like a mix of Spanish and French, but it is definitely not Franish.

French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

Why do I need to know mettre le holà?

Because you might need to do this if your friends go from laughing with you to laughing at you. 

What does it mean?

Mettre le holà – pronounced meh-truh luh oh-la – literally means to put the ‘holà’ on something. You might be thinking this must be some clever mix of Spanish and French, but ‘holà’ actually has nothing to do with the Spanish greeting. 

This expression is a way to say that’s enough – or to ‘put the brakes on something.’

If a situation appears to be agitated, and you feel the need to intervene in order to help calm things down, then this might be the expression you would use. Another way of saying it in English might be to ‘put the kibosh on it.’

While the origins of ‘kibosh’ appear to be unknown, ‘holà’ goes back to the 14th century in France. Back then, people would shout “Ho! Qui va là?” (Oh, who goes there?) as an interjection to call someone out or challenge them. 

Over time this transformed into the simple holà, which you might hear on the streets, particularly if you engage in some risky jaywalking. 

A French synonym for this expression is ‘freiner’ – which literally means ‘to break’ or ‘put the brakes on,’ and can be used figuratively as well as literally. 

Use it like this

Tu aurais dû mettre le holà tout de suite. Cette conversation a duré bien trop longtemps, et il était si offensif. – You should have put a stop to that immediately. That conversation went on for too long, and he was so offensive. 

J’ai essayé de mettre le holà à la blague sur ma mère, mais ils étaient sans pitié. – I tried to put a stop to the joke about my mother, but they were merciless.