Les coups de glotte and other coups

Coup de glotte / Glottal Stop

Yesterday I discovered that the French for glottal stop is coup de glotte (“blow of the glottis”).

The word coup (blow, shot, stroke, wave, kick, punch, move) appears in many other expressions, including:

– (donner un) coup de balai = (to) sweep; shake up
– coup de vent = blow of wind
– coup de tête = header; whim
– coup de tabac = squall; gale
– coup de pied = kick
– c’est le coup de barre ! = it’s daylight robbery!
– j’ai le coup de barre ! = all of a sudden I feel totally shattered!
– coup de bol = stroke of luck (bol = bowl)
– coup de boule = headbutt
– coup de brosse = brushstroke
– coup de théâtre = dramatic turn of events
– coup de cafard = fit of the blues (cafard = cockroach)
– coup de chapeau = pat on the back (fig)
– donner un coup de chapeau à qn/qch = to give sb/sth full marks; to praise sb/sth
– coup de chapeau à X ! = hats off to X!
– coup d’état = coup (d’État); putsch
– coup de grâce = coup de grace; deathblow
– (pousser un) coup de gueule = (to have a) rant

Gueule is another interesting word that came up in the French conversation group yesterday and which means the mouth/snout/muzzle of an animal, and is used as a slang word for a person’s mouth – the equivalent of mug, gob, cakehole, etc in English. Do you have any others?

One quite rude way to tell people to be quiet in French is “Ta gueule !”, and if you drink a lot of alcohol you might wake up the following morning with une gueule de bois (“a wooden gob”) or a hangover. A gueule-de-loup (“wolf’s snout”), on the other hand, is a snapdragon (Antirrhinum), which is a trwyn llo (“cow’s nose”) or a safn y llew (“lion’s mouth”) in Welsh. By the way, the botanical name for snapdragon, Antirrhinum, comes from Greek and means “like a nose”.

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Words and phrases.

2 Responses to Les coups de glotte and other coups

  1. Charlie says:

    French /ɡœl/ has a quite regular spelling: gueule (not guele; cf. the loan word amuse-gueule).

  2. Charlie says:

    It might be interesting to observe that coup de glotte has literal equivalents in German Glottisschlag and Dutch glottisslag. And that snapdragon is called Löwenmäulchen/Löwenmaul // leeuwenmuil/leeuwenbek “lion’s mouth”, as in Welsh. (Dutch leeuwenmuil is Antirrhinum, whereas leeuwenbek may also refer to the closely related Linaria, at least according to my dictionary.)

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