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Intraduisible #24 Coup de


We’ve all experienced those moments when you are struck by a feeling of something, whether it be a moment of love, tiredness or even old age! In English, it is often difficult to describe these sudden, out-of-the-blue moments because they are often triggered by an instinctive reaction to something.

However, the French have devised a phrase that allows us to describe exactly this feeling: ‘coup de [quelquechose]’*. Literally meaning a ‘knock’ or ‘bang’, a ‘coup de [quelquechose]’ is figuratively used to when we are hit by these sudden feelings.

The phrase can be used in a number of ways and perhaps the most common usage is a ‘coup de foudre’, which literally means a ‘lightning strike’, but is figuratively used to describe the feeling of love at first sight or the point of being madly in love.

Mon ami a eu un coup de foudre pour sa copine
My friend fell madly in love with his girlfriend

Other usages of the phrase include a ‘coup de fatigue’, which is a feeling of sudden tiredness, or a ‘coup de vieux’, which is a sudden moment of feeling old.

*Please note that the letter ‘p’ is silent in the phrase ‘coup de [qqch]’!


Click HERE for more of our favourite “untranslatable” expressions!

See also...

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