What does pêle-mêle mean in French? And how to say carpet (moquette)
Monnaie in French, pièces jaunes, and how to say change (coins)

Percer & How to say earrings in French

stone chapel in Sauze, France (c) Kristin Espinasse

NEW! Don't miss Jean-Marc's new podcast--hear his most recent column in French & English: http://a-la-recherche-du-vin.typepad.com

percer (pehr-say) verb

 : to make an opening, a hole; to pierce, to drill

  L'eau douce gouttant sur la pierre dure finit par la percer.
  Fresh water dripping on hard rock ends up piercing it.

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc took Jackie to the Carrefour mall in Trans-en-Provence to get her oreilles pierced. I stayed home to lessen some of the angoisse that would soon overtake my daughter, though she denies any fear--so desperately does she want to wear real earrings and not the glittery stick-on kind.

Jean-Marc brought along two tiny silver dolphins, the boucles d'oreilles Jackie had begged for at the Yellowstone Park gift shop during our latest visit to the States. I wish she had chosen the Geyser Pen or even the Old Faithful shot glass (she could have stored her beads inside there) and, besides, what kind of souvenir do dolphins make when, really, the park is full of bison and bears? The earrings, I warned her, she would have to save until she was twelve because that's how old I was when my mom drove me to Metrocenter Mall to get my ears done--this, after I convinced my sister to stick a halved pomme de terre behind one of my ear lobes--which she did--only I passed out on the moquette before needle ever hit ear, let alone patate.

A small hour* after father and daughter had left for the ear-piercing procedure, my girl came running across the yard wearing a smile as big as the hoop earrings those cagoles* sport down south.

At the lunch table Max and I study the rhinestone studs on either side of a grinning girl's face; that's when Max asks if he can get an ear pierced. The Frenchman sitting across the table just about gags on his green bean omelet before his daughter replies, "Well then, Max, maybe he'll let you pierce your nose?!"

Jackie earrings
Picture of Jackie taken a year or so after getting her ears pierced. Hoop earrings are called
"créoles" in French

French Vocabulary

une oreille = ear

une angoisse = anxiety

une boucle d'oreille = earring

la pomme de terre = potato

la moquette = carpet

la patate = potate

"a little hour" (from the French, "une petite heure")

la cagole = a woman of easy virtue and vulgar language

Audio File Listen: Hear my son, Max, pronounce the word 'percer': Download percer.wav

  percer les oreilles = to pierce one's ears; percer ses dents = to teethe

Conjugation: je perce, tu perces, il/elle/on perce, nous perçons, vous percez,
ils/elles percent

French synonyms: trouer, perforer, transpercer, forer

A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.

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