For members


French Word of the Day: Atout

When you feel you are winning at life, this might come in handy.

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

Why do I need to know Atout?

You’ll need this word for the next time you find yourself at a French dinner party and someone tries to explain the rules of a card game to you.

What does it mean?

Atout – pronounced ah-too – has two meanings.

It can be used to describe a positive quality, asset, or advantage. You might hear it in sporting contexts, perhaps to refer to the main advantage one team has over another, or perhaps to describe the team’s key player. Oftentimes, it is coupled with the word majeur (major) to emphasise the important quality of the person or thing being described. 

Atout is also the French word for ‘trump card’ in card games. This is especially important if you ever find yourself playing the game Tarot, France’s second most popular card game. In this game, there is a whole set of cards numbered from one to 21 that are called the atouts, and they outrank, or trump, the cards from the regular four suits. 

Similar to its usage in English, you can also use ‘trump card’ colloquially, perhaps to describe a winning strategy or the reason you have an upper hand. 

Use it like this

Elle a huit atouts en main. Elle va sûrement gagner. – She has eight trump cards in her hand. She’s definitely going to win.

Votre atout majeur est votre capacité à parler quatre langues. C’est certainement quelque chose qu’il faut signaler pendant l’entretien d’embauche ! –  Your best asset is your ability to speak four languages. That’s definitely something you should point out during the job interview!

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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