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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Boire un coup

It's likely that sooner or later someone will suggest this, so it's important to know what you're agreeing to.

French Expression of the Day: Boire un coup
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know boire un coup ?

Because at some point or another a French person will invite you to do this. 

What does it mean?

Boire un coup – pronounced bwahr uhn koo – translates to ‘drink a shot’ or ‘drink a blow.’ In common usage, the phrase means to have or get a drink – usually implied to be an alcoholic beverage. 

This is a phrase you will likely hear in less formal settings, among friends – or even on the street if someone is trying to pick you up – and it’s particularly common in Paris. 

It is particularly common amongst the younger generation, though the expression has been used for decades. Often it might be posed to you as a question or suggestion.

The word un coup is very flexible in French, with several different meanings depending on the context. You might have heard of ‘coup de foudre’ (love at first sight) or ‘tout d’un coup’ (all of a sudden). These use the word’s definition as a sudden shock or rapid blow, but in the context of boire un coup, the word carries a bit of a different meaning.

Coming from old French, where ‘a blow’ (un coup) was also synonymous with the quantity of liquid a person could drink in one go, over time the word went on to represent a glass or pint, usually shared amongst friends. 

Another French synonym for this expression would be ‘Boire un verre’ (drink a glass). 

Use it like this

Tu veux aller boire un coup après le travail ? – Do you want to go grab a drink after work?

On a commencé a boire des coups, et au cours de la nuit, je me suis senti de plus en plus mal. – We started drinking, and throughout the night I started feeling worse and worse.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Faire d’une pierre deux coups

The most organised of people will likely make use of this handy French Expression.

French Expression of the Day: Faire d’une pierre deux coups

Why do I need to know faire d’une pierre deux coups ?

Because you might want to use this expression after a particularly productive errand-running-day. 

What does it mean?

Faire d’une pierre deux coups – roughly pronounced fair doon pee-air duh koo – translates exactly to “make one rock two shots.” 

If your first instinct is to find it similar to the English expression, “to kill two birds with one stone,” then you would be correct. The French expression carries the same meaning as the English one – which is to achieve two goals at the same time.

The origin of this phrase – for both languages – goes back to the time when people used to hunt with a sling. It would be a great achievement for a hunter to manage to kill two birds with a single stone. 

The expression is still used today, with variations in several different languages, even though most of mankind no longer uses stones to hunt. Nevertheless – it is quite a feat to manage to accomplish two distinct goals in just one action.

Use it like this

J’ai fait d’une pierre deux coups en achetant le cadeau et le repas au même endroit. – I killed two birds with one stone by buying the gift and the meal at the same place.

Vous pouvez faire d’une pierre deux coups en postant votre lettre en même temps que vous récupérez votre colis?  – You could kill two birds with one stone by mailing your letter at the same time as picking up your package?

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