Piqûre de rappel: A French expression you may hear today

As France announces its booster dose campaign will launch in mid-September, we look at the expression piqûre de rappel, which has more than one meaning in French

18 August 2021

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

Translated literally a piqûre de rappel means a reminder ‘prick’.

One meaning of piqûre – from piquer (to prick) – is an insect sting but it can also mean jab or injection, so a piqûre de rappel is a booster dose, a topic we are likely to be hearing a lot about in coming weeks.

However, piqûre de rappel also has a figurative meaning, based on the literal medical one. In this sense, a piqûre de rappel (or a petite piqûre de rappel) can also mean a general reminder.

Here the word piqûre can imply that the reminder might not be welcome, as it might hurt, or sting, a little.

But this does not have to be the case. Piqûres de rappel can refer to anything from refresher training courses, to more general reminders of information, to nudging someone to do or stop doing something.

In its medical use, the expression is likely to be heard in the media in relation to the Covid booster dose campaign starting in September.

The Health Ministry announced today that five million people would initially be eligible for booster doses – piqûres de rappel – including the elderly and people with immune deficiencies.

An announcement on whether the campaign will be rolled out to the wider population in France is expected in the coming days.

Read more: 5 million eligible for Covid booster in France - how do they get it?

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