For members


French Expression of the Day: Les stups

You'll probably see this word pop up a few times when browsing the crime section of your local French newspaper.

French Expression of the Day:  Les stups
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know les stups?

Because you might want yet another way to refer to the boys-in-blue in French.

What does it mean?

Les stups – pronounced roughly as “lay stoop” –  is the shortened version of “les stupéfiants,”which is a term for psychoactive drugs. In common use, it refers to the specific team of police officers tasked with investigating narcotics and drug trafficking. In English, the exact translation would likely be the ‘narcotic police’ or ‘drug squad.’

In the media, you will likely see this word when it is used to reference a drug stop (trafic des stups) or in reference to les policiers des stups for articles about drug busts. Maybe you will hear it used, though somewhat pejoratively, when referencing a police officer that works for this specific brigade (flic de stups) which might more appropriately translate to a NARC in English. 

The word stupéfiant entered the French vocabulary in the 19th century, particularly simply for pharmacology use. But it only became associated with the police in 1989, when the Prime Minister officially made the drug squad separate from the “vice squad.”

It’s used like this

La police des stupéfiants a saisi 9 kg de marijuana à Bordeaux hier. – The narcotic police seized 9kg of marijuana in Bordeaux yesterday.

Il a été arrêté par les stups à la gare parce qu’ils le soupçonnaient de transporter de la drogue.–  He was stopped by the narcotic police at the train station because they suspected him of transporting drugs.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Ça tape

The long-range forecast suggests that this will be a handy phrase this summer.

French Expression of the Day: Ça tape

Why do I need to know ça tape?

Because you might want a way to describe the feeling of walking down a long boulevard with no shade in sight…or a techno concert.

What does it mean?

Ça tape usually pronounced sah tap – literally translates to ‘it taps’ or ‘it hits.’ The verb being used is taper, which means to hit or slap, and colloquially can be used to seek monetary support from someone. It is also the verb for ‘to type.’ But when spoken, this phrase does not involve violence, financial assistance, or note-taking.

Ça tape is a way to say ‘it’s scorching’ and complain about the hot weather or the search for shade. If someone uses it under a hot sun, and they say “ça tape”  or “ça tape fort” they’re referring to the particularly violent, piercing heat.

It can also be used to say something is intense, particularly in relation to music. It bears a similar colloquial meaning to the English informal phrase “it hits” or “it’s banging.” For example, you might be at a loud concert listening to a particularly passionate DJ – this might be a good scenario to employ ‘ça tape.’

The first meaning, which refers to the heat, is more commonly used across generations, whereas the second might be heard more from a younger audience. 

 Use it like this

Dès que je suis sortie de l’appartement et que je suis entrée dans la rue, j’ai dit “Ça tape !” car le soleil était si fort.– As soon as I stepped out of the apartment and into the street, I said to myself “it’s blazing!” because the sun was so strong.

Ce festival est incroyable, tout le monde est dans le même esprit. Ouh t’entends cette basse ? Ça tape !  – This festival is amazing, everyone is really in the same mood. Do you hear that bass? It’s banging.