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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Avoir le cafard

Sadly, calling pest control isn’t going to be enough.

French Expression of the Day: Avoir le cafard
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know avoir le cafard?

Because it’s a handy phrase to use with a friend to describe feeling a little down in the dumps.

What does it mean?

Avoir le cafard – pronounced a-vwah le caf-ar – translates precisely as ‘to have the cockroach’ but it really means being in a melancholy mood, to feel a little blue.

The phrase has north African origins – cafard comes from the Arabic word ‘kafir’, which describes a person who lacks faith. 

In 16th-century France, the word carried the same meaning and has now come, via Charles Baudelaire’s poetic description of his emotions in Les Fleurs du Mal, to this phrase, to mean having little self-belief.

Use it like this

J’ai le cafard parce que je dois travailler ce weekend – I feel miserable because I have to work this weekend

Mon frère a le cafard depuis quelque temps et ne veut plus sortir – My brother has been feeling down for a while and doesn’t want to go out anymore. 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Poêle

The season of the poêle is approaching.

French Word of the Day: Poêle

Why do I need to know poêle ?

Because you might be confused why your friends said they plan to heat their home using a frying pan this winter.

What does it mean?

Poêle – roughly pronounced pwahl – translates exactly to “stove” and is also often used in a shortened form of poêle à frire (frying pan).

But that’s not why people suddenly start talking about them as the temperatures fall, as a poêle is also an alternative heating method.

In English, we would call these log-burners or wood (or pellet) burning stoves. There are two different types – un poêle à bois (wood-burner) or un poêle à granulés (pellet-burner).

These can be used as an extra heater or simply as a nice focal point in the living room, but certain types of poêle can also be linked up to the main heating system or water-heating system, so have a more practical application.

Some people also use the hot surface of the poêle to boil a kettle on or to cook on, although they’re usually used as a supplement to an electric or gas stove. 

Amid France’s discussion surrounding energy shortages and the price of electricity and gas, les poêles have been more frequently referenced.

Be careful not to confuse this word with ‘poils’ which is the French word for animal fur, but is pronounced very similarly, or even à poil which is a colloquial word for being naked.

Use it like this

J’ai installé un poêle à bois dans ma maison. Le processus a pris beaucoup de temps, mais j’ai pu bénéficier de certaines aides gouvernementales. – I installed a wood-burning stove in my home. The process took a long time, but I was able to benefit from some government subsidies.

Elle a chauffé sa maison avec le poêle tout l’hiver pour éviter d’utiliser l’électricité. – She heated her home using the wood-burner all winter to avoid using electricity.

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