French word of the Day: Galocher

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French word of the Day: Galocher
French Word of the Day: galocher

The dictionary will tell you it's an old-fashioned type of shoe. Younger French people will tell you it's something quite different.


Why do I need to know galocher?

You may hear your younger colleagues use the term during water cooler discussions about certain reality TV shows. 

What does it mean?

Galocher - pronounced ga - losh - ay - is the really French verb for a passionate kiss - in English we might say snogging, pashing, making out or a 'French kiss' - that is, kissing with tongues.

Unbelievably for the nation that apparently personifies the passionate kiss (linguistically speaking, at least), for many years the French language had no specific word for a 'French kiss' - people would use embrasser to describe all types of kiss, with the context suggesting whether that was a kiss on the cheek for your granny or a passionate snog with a lover. There were also some slang words for a sexy kiss.


'French kiss' is an Americanism which has been around since at least the 1920s, and may date to the 19th century. For many years the French understood and used the term - and plenty still do - but it has never been popular with French language purists.

It took a century or so, but - in 2014 - Le Robert introduced galocher for the first time. Transitive verb. To kiss with tongues. It wasn’t a new word, but formalised a new meaning.

It comes from “galoche” - an overshoe with a leather upper and a wooden sole that is worn over slippers or shoes to protect them - it’s where the English word 'galoshes' comes from.

From that, there’s the verb galocher which means to walk around noisily in galoshes, and which now has - thanks in part to its addition to Le Robert dictionary - its second, more intimate meaning.

The link between shoe and kiss is not immediately apparent, and we’re carefully ignoring possible noise-related suggestions, but a phrase rouler des galoches may help. The verb rouler - to roll - which, according to Les 1001 expressions préférées des Français, describes the movement of the tongue during a sensual kiss. 

The verb is galocher and a French kiss is feminine - une galoche.

Use it like this

Elle s'est fait galocher par un prince charmant - she was passionately kissed by a prince charming

Love Island France: Gabriel galoche Camille... sous les yeux d'Anna - Love Island France: Gabriel French kisses Camille . . . right in front of Anna


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Bryan Woy 2023/05/24 17:34
"rouler une pelle à quelqu'un" is the expression I have been most familiar with during the 33 years I have lived in this country, and itis in the dictionary, too. Has it gone out of fashion?
Iain 2023/05/23 12:16
Ah, snogging. The art of the snog has been much neglected in recent decades but really the first thing which you should judge potential partners by is the quality of their kissing, it's simply not nearly enough to try and stick your tongue down someone's throat there's a lot more artistry required.

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