For members


French Word of the Day: Cartonner

Give yourself a pat on the back.

French Word of the Day: Cartonner
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know the word cartonner? 

Because it is important to recognise achievement. 

What does it mean? 

Cartonner, pronounced “car-tohn-eh”, commonly translates as “to achieve success” or “to gain popularity”. 

It is thought to have come from the funfairs of the mid 20th century when visitors would shoot pellet rifles at cardboard (carton) targets. Faire un carton was the phrase used to say that you had hit the mark. 

It very much a colloquial expression. 

Use it like this

Mon nouvel album a cartonné – My new album has been a hit 

Elle a cartonné à ses exams – She has done well in her exams

Tu vas cartonner – You will be successful 

Je cartonne en maths – I am great at maths

Ça cartonne – That is a hit 

Plus ça cartonne, plus on a d’opportunité comme travailler avec des marques – The more this becomes popular, the more opportunities we have to work with brands 

Other carton phrases

Carton rouge/jaune – A red/yellow card [sport]

Être cartonné par les critiques – To be attacked by critics 

Prendre un carton – To receive a hefty bill

Rester dans les cartons – To describe an idea or project that never went beyond the planning stage

Taper le carton – To play cards

J’ai cartonné en voiture – I had a car crash 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Un de ces quatres

The perfect response to that invitation you don't really want to say a firm yes to.

French Expression of the Day:  Un de ces quatres

Why do I need to know un de ces quatres?

Because you will probably hear this phrase while trying to make plans with someone in French

What does it mean?

Un de ces quatres – usually pronounced uhn duh say cat-truhs – translates exactly to “one of these fours.” If taken literally the phrase really does not make any sense in French or English. But in actuality, it means “one of these days,” “at some point,” or just “soon.”

This expression is a shortening of “one of these four mornings to come,” which was first used in the second half of the 19th century. It designates a time that is sometime in the near future, but still rather indeterminate.

In French, the number ‘four’ is often used in expressions to refer to imprecise, or small, quantities. Some people say this is because four is the number for the seasons and cardinal points (North, South, East, West), so saying ‘one of these four’ shows a level of ambiguity. But unfortunately we don’t really know exactly how (or why) this phrase arose.

If you want another way of saying this, you can always stick with the regular “un de ces jours” (one of these days).

Use it like this

J’ai été tellement occupée ces derniers temps mais nous devrons prendre un verre un de ces quatres. – I’ve been so busy lately, but we have to grab a drink one of these days.

Il m’a dit qu’il nettoierait la salle de bain un de ces quatres, donc je suppose que ça n’a pas encore été fait. – He told me he would clean the bathroom one of these days, so I guess it hasn’t been done yet.