For members


French Word of the Day: Gloups

This is a useful word for when you realise you have made a mistake

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

Why do I need to know gloups? 

Because no one is perfect. 

What does it mean?

Gloups, pronounced gloops, is an onomatopoeic word that is the French equivalent of saying ‘gulp’ or ‘glug’.

French people think that the sound of someone gulping down a drink is: gloups, gloups, gloups

READ MORE How to say ‘OUCH’ in French (and ten other sounds)

It is common from French people to say gloups when they realise they have made some kind of mistake or are embarrassed by a situation. It is used in a similar sense to ‘oops’

Gloups, je crois que je viens de faire une bourde – Oops, I believe I made a mistake

Gloups, je crois que j’ai cassé une assiette – Oops, I think I broke a plate

J’ai demandé de la confiture ‘sans préservatifs’. Je voulais dire de la confiture sans conservateurs. Gloups – I asked for jam ‘without condoms’, I meant to say preservative-free jam. Oops

Je viens de voir un fantôme. Gloups – I have just seen a ghost. Gulp. 


There are many words to evoke the idea of gulping, guzzling or swallowing something:

Avaler – to swallow/gulp

Engloutir – to swallow/devour/gobble

To express the fact that you have made a mistake, the most common word used in French is Oups (oops) 

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

This expression doesn't actually have much to do with lunchtime.

French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

Why do I need to know chercher midi à quatorze heures?

Because when someone makes what should take fifteen minutes into an hour-long effort, you might want an appropriate phase.

What does it mean?

Chercher midi à quatorze heures – usually pronounced share-shay-mid-ee-ah-cat-orz-ur – literally means “to look for noon at 2 pm.” When taken literally, the expression does not make much sense. However, in practice, it means “to make a simple thing overly complicated.” It is basically the French equivalent of “don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”

The expression is quite old, but it is still in use…though it might be more common to find it spoken in the countryside rather than on Twitter.

It was first used as early as the 16th century – the version then was “to look for noon at eleven.” As time went on, it changed to reflect its current form in the 17th century. 

As noon is an important marker for the middle of the day, particularly as l’heure de déjeuner (lunch time), the expression makes fun of making something overly difficult. 

You’ll most likely hear this in the negative command form – as it is something you should probably avoid doing.

Use it like this

Pourquoi avoir pris la route la plus longue pour aller au supermarché ? Ne cherchez pas midi à quatorze heures. – Why take the longest route to get to the supermarket? Don’t overcomplicate things.

Tu n’as pas besoin d’essayer toutes les lettres de l’alphabet pour trouver le Wordle. C’est mieux de penser à des mots simples. Ne cherche pas midi à quatorze heures. – You don’t need to try every letter in the alphabet to get the Wordle. Just think of simple words. Don’t over complicate it.