Thursday, January 18, 2007

Overnight bag

It took a watching of Quatre étoiles, a forgettable movie with José Garcia, to remind me of this seldom-used word:
un baise-en-ville = overnight bag (slang)
la baise = screwing (or any other synonym you can think of)
la ville = city
the meaning, clearly, being that the bag contains all you need to have an overnight affair (in the city).

Note that the use of baiser requires attention, as it means both to kiss and to screw, although nowadays it tends to lean towards the latter.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


une coupe =
  • a cup, in sports - la coupe Davis, la Coupe du monde, etc.
  • a haircut, e.g. ta coupe est ridicule = your haircut is ridiculous
  • a cut, e.g. une coupe dans le budget = a cut in the budget
  • a glass, but only for champagne: une coupe de champagne = a glass of champagne
  • a bowl
la coupe est pleine! = enough is enough! (literally the bowl is full)

See you in two weeks when I'm back from vacation!



sans = without (the final 's' is silent)

e.g.: il est parti sans moi = he left without me
j'aime mon café sans sucre = I like my coffee without sugar

And a few nouns / adjectives:
  • un/une sans-cœur = a heartless person (can also be an adjective)
  • un/une sans-culotte = sans-culottes (literally without pants). The term is used to refer to the working-class that led the French Revolution, not because they ran around naked, but because they wore pantalons instead of the fancier culottes
  • un/une sans-emploi = unemployed (literally without a job)
  • un sans-faute = a faultless ("without a fault") performance
  • un/une sans-gêne = a bad-mannered person (literally without embarrassment)
  • une/une sans-le-sou = a penniless person. Un sou = a penny/a cent, to refer to a small amount of money. 1/100 of a Euro is called un centime


Monday, January 15, 2007


Today, words that start with papill-
  • un papillon = a butterfly (pronounced like pah - pee - yon)
  • une papille = a taste bud (pronounced like pah - peey')
  • une papillote = a foil parcel in which to cook food. Also a chocolate or candy wrapped in silver paper (pronounced like pah - pee - yot)


Thursday, January 11, 2007


Famous for their alleged rudeness and pride, Parisians also boast a wide range of verbal and facial expressions, that a non-profit tourism organization decided to showcase in their latest advertising campaign. To be fair, these are not specific to Paris, but see if you can spot the signs and gestures that accompany:
  • On s'appelle? = Call me (literally let's call each other)
  • Bof = hmm, eh, or whatever else you say when you shrug
  • Camembert! = a cheese, of course. Telling someone "Ferme ta boite à Camembert" ("shut your Camembert box", or "Camembert" for short) is a (rather childish) way of telling him or her to shut up. I personally prefer "ta gueule!"
  • Ras le bol = fed up (the 's' is silent). Un bol is a bowl, so the image is that of a bowl filled to the top, ready to overflow, as in the other expression la goutte d'eau qui fait déborder le vase
  • Hein? or Répétez? = Uh? Say again?
  • On se tire or on se casse = Let's get the hell out of here (slang)
  • Les boules = when you're upset. Une boule = ball. Note the gesture can also accompany tu me gonfles! (or tu me les gonfles!) = you're getting on my nerves!

See if you can find them all, plus la moue (pout), and if you feel like it you can also enter their contest to win a week-end in Paris for two by taking pictures of yourself practicing those gestures.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A few things to do before and after new year

After having recovered from New Year celebrations, a few reminders of things to do around this time of year:
  • Profiter de la trêve des confiseurs - un confiseur is a candy/chocolate maker. une trêve is a break, a truce. La trêve des confiseurs refers to the break between Christmas and New Year, when one likes to enjoy candies. It was formerly known as the trêve de Noël in relation to a short truce between British and German troops during WWI to celebrate Christmas (as told in this 2005 movie)
  • Envoyer ses vœux - sending New Year greetings. Un vœu (pronounced veu, the x is silent in the plural form) is a wish or a vow
  • Donner les étrennes - giving New Year gifts. A long-standing tradition of giving gifts to family, now mostly replaced by a number of professions (firefighters, mailmen,...) making rounds to offer small gifts (mostly calendars) in exchange for donations
  • Manger la galette des rois - I already covered that topic, and now's the time of year to enjoy a delicious galette and get a chance to be the king or queen for a day!

Monday, January 08, 2007


l'ennui is a masculine noun that is pronounced "an - nui" and means either:
mourir d'ennui! = to die of boredom
quel ennui! = what a bore!

problem, trouble:
il a des ennuis = he has problems
j'ai des ennuis avec la police = I'm in trouble with the police
il a des ennuis de santé = he has health problems

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Bon à rien

bon (masculine) / bonne (feminine) = good (as an adjective).
Une bonne
= a maid

rien = nothing

un bon à rien / une bonne à rien = a good-for-nothing

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


une pipelette (feminine only, go figure...) = a gossipmonger

Also slang for concierge / superintendant. Other synonyms include:
  • une commère (please note: feminine again)
  • une mégère (literally a shrew)
  • une jacasse or une pie (literally a magpie)
  • and probably a lot more
Gossip can also be translated in a number of ways, mostly use in plural form:
  • des commérages (masculine)
  • des potins (masculine)
  • des ragots (masculine)
  • des cancans (masculine)
  • des papotages (masculine)
  • le qu'en-dira-t-on (literally what will people say)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Bonne année!

une année or un an = a year

Bonne année! = Happy (New) Year!