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Coup de foudre

French expressions analyzed and explained

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Un coup de foudre

Un coup de foudre

Alan Kearney / Getty Images
Expression: Coup de foudre

Pronunciation: [coo d(eu) foodr(eu)]

Meaning: bolt of lightning, love at first sight

Literal translation: bolt of lightning

Register: normal

Notes: The French expression le coup de foudre has a literal and a figurative meaning, though the latter is a bit more common. Literally, un coup de foudre is a "bolt of lightning" or "thunderbolt."

Figuratively, it indicates "love at first sight," which I think makes perfect sense, as that feeling is like a huge a shock to the system.

The two verbs you can use with the figurative meaning give it slightly different nuances:

être le coup de foudre - to be love at first sight

   Quand je l'ai vu, ça a été le coup de foudre.
   When I saw it/him, it was love at first sight.

avoir le coup de foudre (pour) - to fall in love (with) at first sight

   J'ai eu le coup de foudre pour Thomas / pour Paris.
   I fell in love with Thomas / Paris at first sight.

To fall in love (not necessarily at first sight):
   tomber amoureux (de) [not "tomber en amour avec"]
   avoir un coup de cœur (pour)
   (literary) s'éprendre (de)
   (informal) flasher (sur)

To become infatuated (with):
   s'amouracher (de)
   (formal) s'enticher (de)
   (informal) se toquer (de)


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