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French Idiom (Coup de Foudre) Love At First Sight

French Idiom (Coup de Foudre) Love At First Sight

In French, le coup de foudre translates literally to “lightning strike” or a “bolt of lightning”. However, le coup de foudre is also a commonly used idiom meaning “love at first sight”. This post will explain precisely how to use this French expression.

le coup de foudre

love at first sight

Coup de Foudre (Love At First Sight)

Coup de foudre usages


First and foremost, coup de foudre is a French weather term meaning “lightning”, “lightning strike” or “lightning bolt”. For example:

Il y aura des coups de foudre cet après-midi.

There will be lightning this afternoon.

Love at first sight

According to, the expression coup de foudre first appeared in the language in the 17th century. The lightning bolt was associated with “an event which surprises in a sudden and unpleasant way”. Coup de foudre appeared as an idiom associated with love in the 18th century, with lightning being a metaphor for sudden attraction.

Avoir le coup de foudre means to fall in love at first sight. For example:

Pierre a eu le coup de foudre pour Julie.

Pierre fell in love with Julie at first sight.

Être le coup de foudre to “to be love at first sight”. For example:

Quand j’ai vu Sylvie, ça a été le coup de foudre.

When I saw Sylvie, it was love at first sight.


Et voilà! You now know how to use the expression le coup de foudre. Now check out some of our other fun posts covering idioms such as avoir le cafard (to feel depressed) and être fleur bleue (to be moved emotionally.

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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