Coup de foudre

Un coup de foudre
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Electrifying French Expression

Meaning bolt of lightning, love at first sight
Literally bolt of lightning
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Pronunciation [coo d(eu) foo dr(eu)]
IPA   [ku də fudʁe]

Usage notes: The French expression le coup de foudre has a literal and a figurative meaning, though the latter is more common – especially among English speakers.

Literally, un coup de foudre is a “bolt of lightning” or “thunderbolt.”

J’ai vu un coup de foudre tout à l’heure.   I saw a bolt of lightning a moment ago.
Attention, il peut y avoir des coups de foudre.   Be careful, there might be lightning.

Figuratively, un coup de foudre indicates “love at first sight,” which I think makes perfect sense, as that is quite an electrifying feeling. You can choose between être and avoir to express slightly different nuances.

Être le coup de foudre – To be love at first sight

J’ai aperçu mon collègue, et ça a été le coup de foudre.   I got a glimpse of my colleague, and it was love at first sight.
Arriver dans un nouveau pays est toujours un coup de foudre.   Arriving in a new country is always love at first sight.

Avoir le coup de foudre – To fall in love at first sight

J’ai eu le coup de foudre pour mon collègue.   I fell in love with my colleague at first sight.
En arrivant dans un nouveau pays, j’ai toujours le coup de foudre.   When I arrive in a new country, it’s always love at first sight.

Somewhat synonymous

1. To fall in love (with)

  • tomber amoureux (de) *
  • avoir un coup de cœur (pour)
  • (informal) flasher (sur)
  • (literary) s’éprendre (de)

 * Not tomber en amour

2. To become infatuated (with)

  • s’amouracher (de)
  • (informal) se toquer (de)
  • (formal) s’enticher (de)

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Coup de foudre

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