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French Word of the Day: Dératisation

If you plan to take on the 3-6 million rats living in Paris, this is word might come in handy.

French word of the day: dératisation
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know dératisation? 

Because rats are everywhere. 

What does it mean? 

Dératisation, pronounced day-rat-isa-shon, is a name given to the process of exterminating rats, systematically within a pre-defined area.  It is sometimes used to talk about rodent control more widely. 

As a verb, you can say dératiser if to talk about the action of exterminating rats. 

Estimates for the number of rats in France vary widely, but most dératisation experts believe the number is 3-6 million in Paris alone. 

Globally there are more than 60 recognised species of rat. A female rate can have up to 55 babies per year. A newborn female rat becomes fertile at two months old. A couple of rates can produce some 5,000 descendants in a single year, which is why it is so hard to keep their numbers under control. 

Shops specialised in dératisation are common in France.

Shops specialised in dératisation are common in France. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

The City of Paris has launched an app called Dans Ma Rue where you can signal a rat sighting to the competent authorities. This technological approach does not seemed to have worked though. Despite making more than 7,000 “interventions” every year, local authorities concede that there has been a “surge” in rat numbers in some parts of the capital. 

Use it like this

Un plan de dératisation a été lancé par la direction – A rat extermination was launched by the management

Une entreprise spécialisée dans la dératisation a été appelée pour faire un diagnostic complet – A business specialising in rodent control has been called to do a complete assessment 

Deux opérations de dératisation ont eu lieu – Two vermin control operations took place

On va dératiser ce bâtiment – We are going to exterminate the rats in this building

Related vocabulary

un raticide – a rat poison 

des produits anti-parasitaires – pest control products 

un piège – a trap 

les nuisibles – pests 

le rongeur – the rodent 

un service de dératisation – a rat extermination service

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener