Tout d’un coup

Tout d'un coup
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French Expression

Meaning all at once; ~ all of a sudden
Literally all in one blow
Register normal
Pronunciation French sound files [too doo(n) koo]
IPA   [tu dœ̃ ku]

Usage notes: The French expression tout d’un coup is used with two kind of similar meanings, but one of them is wrong.

The real meaning of tout d’un coup is “all at once, in a single move, in one fell swoop.”

Par exemple…

Le séisme a détruit le village tout d’un coup.   The earthquake destroyed the town in one fell swoop.
Tout d’un coup, il a saisi ses affaires et est parti.   All at once, he grabbed his things and left.

French lesson plans (Tout) d’un coup in action

Examples of (tout) d’un coup in real-life videos from Lawless French Immersion:

Et tout à coup, paf ! On finit par ressortir ailleurs.   And suddenly, bam! You end up coming out elsewhere.
Video: Secret passages: the traboules of Lyon
Ça s’allume d’un coup et ça éclaire le monde et la vie différemment   It lights up suddenly and it illuminates the world and life differently
Video: Grand Corps Malade & Camille Lellouche – Mais je t’aime
25 % d’un coup à un moment où les vins partent, eh ben…   25% all of a sudden, just when wines are sent, well…
Video: French wine threatened by US tariffs
Jean Sulpice obtient deux étoiles d’un coup.   Jean Sulpice gets two stars at once.
Video: 2018 Michelin stars celebrate France’s best restaurants


  • d’un coup
  • d’un seul coup
  • d’un trait (with a verb like boire or avaler)
  • en une seule fois
  • en une seule gorgée (boire, avaler)

 Tout d’un coup is an indicator that you need the passé composé rather than imparfait.

 Faux synonym

Native French speakers commonly – but mistakenly – use tout d’un coup to mean tout à coup.

xxx Tout d’un coup, la voiture s’est retournée. xxx   xxx All of a sudden, the car flipped over. xxx
Really means: In a single move, the car flipped over.
xxx Je lisais quand tout d’un coup j’ai eu une idée. xxx   xxx I was reading when I suddenly had an idea. xxx
Really means: I was reading when I had an idea all at once.

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Tout d'un coup

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