French Word of the Day: Choper

French Word of the Day: Choper
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
From illness to stealing to trying out your best pick-up lines, this is a very versatile French verb.

Why do I need to know choper?

Because there’s a pandemic, but even when (if?) it’s over, illness will always be with us. 

What does it mean?

Choper, pronounced “shop-eh”, is a slang verb that means “to catch”, typically in relation to an illness. It’s informal so you won’t hear it in government health briefings, but it’s not offensive. 

It is thought to come from the Old French, chopper, which meant “to stumble/to fall”. 

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While choper is most commonly used to talk about illness, it can also be used to talk about stealing, getting arrested or seducing someone. 

On m’a chopé mon vélo – They stole my bike 

Il s’est fait choper par les flics en sortant de chez lui – He was arrested by the police when he left his house

Tous les samedis soir, vous sortez en boite pour essayer de choper des meufs – Every Saturday night, you go to the nightclub to try and chat up women 

While choper can be used in multiple contexts, the verb conveys a general sense of “taking”: your health; your possession; your freedom; or perhaps in the last example, your phone number. 

The verlan of choper is pécho. When used in the verlan form, this word is generally only applied in the romantic sense. 

By and large, if you are the one to choper, you are the one taking. If you have been chopé, you are having something taken from you. 

Use it like this

As previously mentioned, this verb is mostly used to talk about getting ill. 

J’ai chopé le covid – I have caught covid

Peut-on chopé le covid deux fois? – Can you catch Covid twice? 

Afin de ne pas choper le covid, il faut respecter les gestes barrières – To avoid catching Covid, you must respect barrier gestures 


Attraper une maladie – To catch an illness 

Être covidé – To have Covid 

Être infecté – To be infected

Être contaminé – To be contaminated

Être empoisonner – To be poisoned 

Être intoxiqué – To be poisoned 

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  1. “The verlan of choper is pécho.” As if French weren’t difficult enough to learn, the kids had to add verlan mdr

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