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French Word of the Day: BAV

This acronym is a polite way to sign off a message, unless you are a slobbering dog.

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

Why do I need to know BAV? 

Because manners are important.

What does it mean?

BAV, pronounced bahv, is a short-hand way of writing bien à vous – with kind regards.

It is often used in electronic communications like sending an email or a polite text message. 

BAV is considered a little less formal than writing bien cordialement and you would probably not use it in your first written communication with someone. But once you have built up a rapport with the person, BAV can be a good way to go. 

Je reviens vers vous dans les prochaines heures. BAV – I will get back to you in the coming hours. Kind regards. 

READ MORE The French abbreviations you need to know to navigate social media like a pro

You should be careful not to confuse BAV with bave (drool, slime, saliva) or baver (to drool, slobber, dribble).

Après avoir sorti l’escargot de sa coquille, on peut éliminer la bave d’escargot  – Having removed the snail from its shell, one can get rid of the slime 

Ce chien bave partout – This dog drools everywhere 

Other ways to end an email or letter

There are plenty of ways to conclude a written message in France. In order of most formal to least, you can find a sample below

Dans l’attente de vous lire, je vous souhaite une bonne journée – In anticipation of hearing from you, I wish you a good day

Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur/Madame, mes salutations distinguées – Please accept, Sir/Madam, my most distinguished salutations [the French equivalent of the formal Yours Sincerely sign-off] 

Veuillez agréer l’expression de mes sentiments respectueux – Yours respectfully

Cordialement – Cordially 

Respectueusement – Respectfully

Chaleureusement – Warmly

À bientôt / à plus tard – See you soon/later

À + –  See you later 

Gros bisous/bisous – Kisses 

READ ALSO What your French emails say about you

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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.