French Word of the Day: Claquer

French Word of the Day: Claquer
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
It might be an attack, but this French verb has a lot of secondary meanings, some of them quite pleasant.

Why do I need to know the word claquer? 

Because it is extremely common and has a wide range of uses. 

What does it mean? 

Claquer (pronounced ‘clack-eh’) is a French verb whose most common use means to slap.

But it has a number of secondary uses – to click, slam, bang, rattle and clack. Basically, it is used to signify an action so forceful that you can hear it making one of those sounds. Say it aloud: the word itself is onomatopoeic. 

It can also be used in a more metaphorical sense to reflect not a physical blow but a disappointment – like the English metaphorical ‘slap in the face’ or to describe something like a drink that has ‘a kick’ or ‘a hit’.

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See also on The Local:

The word has been used in France for more than a millennium and has similar equivalents in the Middle-Dutch language of the 12th Century (Klacken). It is thought that the word originally stemmed from a the Proto-Indo-European language of the bronze ages some six thousand years ago – when glag meant ‘to make a noise, clatter or chirp’. 

Use it like this:

Elle m’a claqué – She slapped me 
Je vais te claquer la porte au nez – I will slam this door in your face
Le parti a été claqué aux élections – The party received a blow at the elections 

Claquer can even be used to emphasise the power of an alcoholic beverage, as one of The Local’s editors recently discovered. 

Claquer can be turned into the noun, claquement. A claquement de doigts is a finger snap. 


Taper, gifler, frapper, cogner, casser – to hit/break 

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