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Atchoum! Catching a Cold in French Posted by on Feb 12, 2018 in Vocabulary

Did you know that the onomatopoeia (l’onomatopée) for “achoo” in English is “atchoum’? We’re in the middle of winter here in the northern hemisphere, which means that we’re also in the middle of cold and flu season. Unfortunately, this means that vocabulary about this might just prove useful!

Courtesy of Pixabay

One of the first signs that you might have caught a cold ( or attraper un rhume) is to have a stuffy nose, or avoir le nez bouché or avoir le nez pris. You might also have a runny nose, or avoir le nez qui coule. Sometimes this is accompanied by having a sore throat, or avoir mal à la gorge. 

Hopefully, however, you won’t have a fever (avoir de la fièvre) or catch the flu (attraper la grippe). Although that’s always a possibility during flu season (la saison de la grippe).

If you’ve got a cough (une toux), you might eventually have a sore throat (avoir mal à la gorge) or have a hoarse voice (avoir la voix cassée). Another way of saying you’ve caught a cold is by saying, j’ai attrappé un coup de froid, which literally means something like “I caught a cold snap.”

Of course, most of the time you can get recover (guérir) from a cold on your own. However, if you do have the flu, you might need to go see a doctor (aller voir un médecin). The doctor might give you a prescription (une ordonnance) for a particular medicine (un médicament).

You can find more vocabulary below. However, if you’re feeling under the weather, I hope you feel better soon. The best way to express this in French is by saying, Bon rétablissement!



contagieux/contagieuse  contagious

l’infection (f)   infection

l’immunité (f)   immunity

un mal de tête  a headache

les frissons     chills

frissoner    to shiver

éternuer    to sneeze

une quinte de toux   a fit of coughing

la congestion    congestion

soigner   to treat

une otite   an earache

des démangeaisons    a rash

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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at http://www.imaginistwriter.com. A la prochaine!