Fantastic French expression N°24 : Tenir au courant

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Here is a popular and useful French expression will keep you plugged in : Tenir au courant ! 🔌

Tenir au courant
Tenir au courant

Tenir au courant Meaning in English

Tenir au courant

Tenir au courant is a very popular French expression but what is “courant” ?

As depicted on the picture above, “courant” is in fact the electricity.

‘Tenir au courant’ hence means literally ‘Hold the electricity’ in French.

But this is not the only meaning because “courant” could also be someone running, or it could be “courant” like the flux of water, last but not least, it can also mean “common“.

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

Tenir au courant Origin

Tenir au courant origin

The meaning which we relate to here is “courant” as in common or what is commonly known. It is with this notion that the locution “au courant”, which has existed since the end of the 18th century, has meant “informed“.

Tenir au courant is therefore keeping somebody informed; saying “Je suis au courant” indicates that we know the information that has been mentioned, we are aware of it.

Tenir au jus

The version with “au jus” , tenir au jus, comes from a pun. Indeed, in slang, the juice does designate a current, but the electric current (“J’me suis pris un coup d’jus” says of someone who imprudently handled electric wires without having cut the circuit breaker).

So as a joke, some have replaced the “courant” of the expression with juice, although the two meanings of the word are completely different.

And for the curious few who would wonder why the electric current is called juice in slang , it comes first, at the beginning of the 20th century, from acidic water. accumulators so called. Then this strange undrinkable juice has, a little later, designated what these accumulators produced.

acculumateurs électriques

Tenir au courant Translation in English

Tenir au courant

A suitable translation of ‘tenir au courant’ in English would be ;

‘keep me informed’ !

Tenir au courant

Tenir au courant French example

« Enfin, pour se tenir au courant, il prit un abonnement à la Ruche médicale, journal nouveau dont il avait reçu le prospectus. »

Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary – 1921
Tenir au courant
Je ne sais pas si je viens à la soirée vendredi, je te tiens au courant !

‘I don’t know if I am coming to the party on Friday. I’ll keep you informed.

So this is it, “tiens moi au courant” means keep me up-to-date and is really widely used, I personally use it all the time !

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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3 years ago

I never thought about the actual meaning of this expression. Thanks for enlightening me! (an English expression referring to electricity maybe?)

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