décrocher vs raccrocher

In this post we’ll examine the difference between three confusing verbs: décrocher, raccrocher and accrocher. These verbs all have to do with hooking, unhooking as well as picking up and hanging up the telephone. We’ll define each verb and look at some practical example sentences.

The base verb of all three verbs is ‘crocher‘, which means to hook. The focus of this post will be on the verbs as they pertain to the use of the telephone. In short, décrocher means to pick up the phone and raccrocher means to hang up the phone. Now we’ll examine the verbs in some detail.

décrocher – to pick up the phone, to unhook, to take down

Décrocher translates literally to ‘to unhook’. The French – can translate to –-un. In the olden days a telephone earpiece was affixed to the wall on a hook. It also means to unhook or take down. Example sentences:

  • Je ne décroche pas le téléphone parce que je suis occupé. I’m not picking up the phone because I’m busy.
  • Le téléphone a sonné mais je n’ai pas déroché. The phone wrang but I didn’t answer.
  • J’ai décroché tous les tableaux avant de déménager. I took down all the paintings before moving.

raccrocher – to hang up the phone, to hang up or hang back up

Raccrocher means to hang up, with the prefix -r implying to ‘re-hook’ the phone. It also translates to hang something back up.

  • J’ai raccroché à la fin de la conversation. I hung up at the end of the conversation.
  • Sylvie a raccroché son affiche préférée. Sylive hung her favorite poster back up.

The expression ‘raccrocher au nez de qqn‘ means to hang up on somebody. Here’s an example sentence:

  • Martin ne voulait plus me parler et il m’a raccroché au nez. Martin didn’t want to talk to me anymore and he hung up on me.

In French slang, raccrocher means to retire or hang up your boots or gloves.

  • Éric a raccroché après une carrière de 35 ans. Eric hung up is gloves after a career of 35 years.

accrocher – to hang up

The verb accrocher has nothing to do with the telephone but simply means to hang up.

  • J’ai accroché plusieurs tableaux dans mon nouvel appartement. I hang up several paintings in my new apartment.
  • J’accroche les clés au porte-clés. I hang the keys on the key rack.

Accrocher has to other interesting usages: to get along and to stick (as in a pan). Par example:

  • Je ne m’attendais pas bien avec mon colocataire. Ça n’a jamais accroché entre nous. I didn’t get along with my roommate. We never hit it off.
  • Cette poêle est de mauvaise qualite et elle accroché. This frying pan is bad quality and it sticks.
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