10 common French expressions involving ‘coup’

From sunburns to parties, we ‘donne un coup de main’ to help you with these common expressions

Boire un coup is just one of many expressions to use this word
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Many French words do not only have one use, and alongside their direct translation form parts of well known expressions or sayings that are used by native speakers.

This is evident with ‘coup’, as a number of unconnected expressions include the versatile word.

Even in its basic form, coup can mean many things, including a knock, a punch or a blow, or alternatively a trick, a deal or a drink.

The pronunciation of coup can be tricky; it is a more rounded sound due to the ‘ou’ dipthong in the word, pronounced like the ‘oo’ in the English ‘good’.

The sound can be difficult for non-native speakers, who can get mixed up and pronounce it more like cul which uses a harsher u sound and is a French swear word (meaning arse).

Below are 10 expressions featuring ‘coup’ which can be used in everyday conversation.

Du coup - so/therefore

Du coup must come first on the list as you will hear it almost everyday in spoken French.

It simply means ‘so’ or ‘therefore’ and is often used as a French filler word.

Malheureusement je suis malade du coup je ne peux pas venir aujourd’hui.’ (Unfortunately I’m sick so I can’t come today).

Read more: Really speak like a local… use these French filler words

Boire un coup - to have a drink

In French there are lots of ways to describe having a drink, and boire un coup is another to add to the long list.

On va boire un coup ce soir, tu veux te joindre à nous ?’ (We’re going for a drink this evening, do you want to join us?)

Avoir un coup dans le nez - to be drunk

This is perhaps one to use at the end of a soirée after a few too many coups, because ‘avoir un coup dans le nez’ means to be drunk.

J’ai une grosse gueule de bois aujourd’hui, j’avais un coup dans le nez hier soir !’ (I’ve got a bad hangover today, I was really drunk last night!)

Un coup de foudre - love at first sight

Foudre translates to ‘lightning’ however when paired with coup the phrase means love at first sight.

Meanwhile, avoir un coup de foudre pour quelqu’un means to fall madly in love with someone, the equivalent of falling head over heels for someone in English.

'Quand je l’ai vu pour la première fois, ça a été le coup de foudre'. (When I saw him for the first time it was love at first sight.)

Read also: 10 phrases using pèter in contexts you might not expect

Donner un coup de main - to lend a hand

If you are asked to donner un coup de main, then a person wants you to help them with something.

Similarly un coup de pouce can also mean to give a helping hand.

'Tu peux me donner un coup de main avec les courses s’il vous plaît ?' (Could you lend me a hand with the shopping please?)

Un coup d’oeil - a glance

Un coup d’oeil means a quick look or glance.

From this phrase comes a few other common expressions; au premier coup d’oeil means at first glance, while d’un coup d’oeil means in the blink of an eye.

In addition valoir le coup d’oeil means to be worth a look.

Un coup de soleil - sunburn

This is one you might need for the summers in France - un coup de soleil is the expression for having a sunburn.

This can be used with attraper un coup de soleil or prendre un coup de soleil meaning to get sunburnt.

Un coup bas - a cheap shot

Un coup bas means a cheap shot or a low blow.

'C'était un coup bas et un peu mechant en vrai.' (It was a low blow and honestly a little bit mean.)

Un coup de barre - to feel tired

Avoir un coup de barre means to feel tired or sluggish.

It gives the idea of experiencing a sudden wave of tiredness out of nowhere.

'J’ai un coup de barre là parce que je me suis levée trop tôt ce matin.' (I’m feeling tired now because I woke up too early this morning.)

Tenter le coup - to give it a try

Tenter le coup means to give something a try.

'Je ne parle pas bien l’espagnol mais je vais tenter le coup.' (I don’t speak good Spanish but I’m going to give it a try).

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