French Expression of the Day: Chair de poule

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French Expression of the Day: Chair de poule
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This French expression does not have anything to do with seated chickens.


Why do I need to know chair de poule?

Because you might want to say this on a cold day or if something is creeping you out.

What does it mean?

Chair de poule - roughly pronounced share duh pool - translates precisely as ‘chicken’s flesh’. 

As you might have guessed, it does not have anything to do with literal chickens. It is the French equivalent for ‘goosebumps’ or 'gooseflesh' - those little raised bumps on your skin when you get a chill or you feel a strong emotion.


Like in English, the French term references the skin or flesh of poultry, which is notably bumpy. We're not sure why the English language settled on a goose while francophones prefer a chicken. Neither are we sure which bird has the bumpiest skin (poultry experts feel free to share in the comment section below).

You might also hear French people say they’ve got des frissons when they're talking about getting goosebumps, especially for an emotional reaction.

Use it like this

L'histoire était si effrayante qu'elle m'a donné la chair de poule. - The story was so scary it gave me goosebumps.

J'en ai encore la chair de poule ! Il faisait un temps glacial là-dedans. - I still have goosebumps! It was freezing in there.


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