Weird French expression N°26 : ah la vache

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Here is a popular and useful French expression which has to do with one of our favourite and most common farm animal : ah la vache ! 🐮

Ah la vache
Ah la vache

Ah la vache Meaning in English

Ah la vache

Ah la vache is a very popular French expression but what is “Ah la vache” ?

As depicted on the picture above, “Ah la vache” is in fact what we call an interjection ‘wouaw the cow !?!.

It is actually used as an expression of surprise, admiration, or disappointment 😳

Ah la vache can be positive, negative, or neutral expression depending on the context.

Ah la vache is informal, and best suited for informal situations, however it is not rude and can be heard from French speakers from all generations.

But what does it mean? Let’s have a look at the origin of this very common French expression to find out !

Ah la vache Origin

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

This expression goes back to the 17th century and is to do with farming. Farmers used to bring their beautiful cows to the town, to display them to the citizens and show them that the milk they produced was fresh. It is said that the townspeople would cry out ah la vache! when they saw how much milk came out of the cows. They were surprised and little by little this became an interjection used when expressing a general expression of surprise.

Ah la vache Translation in English

In English this idiom is represented also by the cow 🙂

Ah la vache Translation in English

A suitable translation of ‘ah la vache’ in English would be ;

‘holy cow’ !


Ah la vache

It could also be the very popular English interaction :

OMG ‘Ah la vache’

Ah la vache French example

« Ah la vache ! Il a gagné au loto »

OMG. He won the lottery

Ah la vache ! Il a eu un accident de voiture épouvantable !

OMG ! He had a terrible car crash
Il est déjà 20 heures, ah la vache, je ne finirai jamais mon rapport à temps !
It is already 8 o'clock, omg, I'll never finish this report on time !

Ah la vache alternatives in French

There is of course the ever popular ….

‘oh la la’ alternative to ‘ah la vache’

or the similarly meaningless

Dis donc !

French exclamation

Voilà, this was today’s French idiom in English, I hope you liked it. Click here to find out about the challenge of 50 French idioms in English

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And I’ll see you next time for more French idioms in English ! 

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