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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Trinquer

This French word involves a lot of eye contact - in both of its senses.

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

Why do I need to know trinquer ?

Because this word has two very opposite meanings, and you’ll definitely want to be able to tell them apart.

What does it mean?

Trinquer – roughly pronounced trahn-kay – is a regular French -ER verb and translates as ‘to toast’ in English, so you might hear this at dinner parties or restaurants. 

However, you might use or hear this verb in very different contexts too. The slang or informal meaning of the word is to ‘suffer the unfortunate consequences of a wrong or harmful act.’ 

In English, you might say ‘to take the fall,’ ‘pay the consequences,’ or simply ‘to suffer.’

The original meaning of trinquer comes from the German word trinken, which means ‘to drink.’ The tradition goes back at least to the Middle Ages, and maybe even to antiquity. According to French superstition, you should always look the person you are toasting in the eyes (or else suffer from bad luck). 

It is not entirely clear where the other meaning of the word comes from, but it sure can be confusing for Anglophones. For example, the sentence “Les parents boivent, les enfants trinquent” might seem to say ‘The parents drink, the kids toast’ – while depending on the context this could be the case, it is more likely translated as “The parents drink, the children pay the consequence.”

The informal version of trinquer is widely used, even by news sites. An example from the French press was “Inflation : les salariés trinquent, les entreprises se couvrent” – an article about how workers suffer the consequences of inflation as companies cover their own needs.

Use it like this

C’est le locataire qui va trinquer si le propriétaire ne répare pas le tuyau qui fuit. – It is the tenant who will deal with the consequences if the landlord does not fix the leaky pipe. 

C’est elle qui trinque pour les mauvaises décisions financières de son mari. – She pays the price for the poor financial decision of her husband.

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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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