For members


French Expression of the Day: Ça gaze?

This word has nothing to do with soaring gas prices or all those Brussel sprouts you've been eating.

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

Why do I need to know ça gaze?

To be down with the kids. 

What does it mean?

As a question, ça gaze? (pronounced sa gaz) means how are you? 

As a response, ça gaze means that things are good.

In that sense it’s similar to ça va, which can be either a question – how’s it going? or a response – it’s all good. 

One of the principal theories put forward for the etymology of ça gaze dates back to WWI. 

Back then, French pilots operating in the early days of aviation would have to really mettre les gaz (push the throttle) for their rickety aircraft to take off. 

Following a flight, mettre les gaz would be shortened to ça gaze? as a way of asking whether it had been a successful mission. 

This military slang eventually trickled down to the civilian population and remains popular, even among young people, in France today. 

Ça gaze mon frérot? – How’s it going bro? 

Oui, ça gaze chef – Yeah, all good boss

It’s not rude, but it’s certainly casual. You probably wouldn’t greet your bank manager in this way.

Other uses of gaz 

In French, the word gaz means gas. It is used in a number of expressions. 

À plein gaz – Full throttle, full power

Un gaz – A fart 

Gaz à effet de serre – Greenhouse gas

Gaz hilarant – Nitrous oxide/laughing gas 

For American readers, gaz refers to household gas and not the stuff that you put in your car, that’s essence.

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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