coucou, hop, tac-tac

disco pig

New Member
salut à tous
hoping someone can clarify a few things for me, ive just started a "stage de travail" in france and im trying to get used to the french lingo
a few things are confusing me, my boss continually says the following
1)"cou cou" when she comes into the office
2)"tac tac" and "hup" when she's scrolling through things on the computer

is she just crazy or do these actually mean anything?
please someone put me out of my misery!!!!

(P.S. the spellings are probably wrong but its how they sound)
  • young

    New Member
    China, chinese & english
    hi there,
    my first message, hehe.. I'm learning french too, but i think i know the meaning of two of the three words..
    "coucou" is something like "hi", it's just some kind of greeting
    for "hup", maybe it's "hop", a french friend told me that "hop" was used when they got something done. it's more like.. "done!"
    sorry, i've no idea about the "tac tac", hope the other two help

    enjoy your staying in France.


    Senior Member
    Canada English
    A bit like the French comic strip heros, Asterix and Obelix. Asterix is often seen tapping his head with the words "toc toc" and Obelix will scratch his head to the words "grat grat".

    A.D. Burris

    I think "tac tac" is just a nonsense word, just like English speakers frequently say "doot doo-doot doo-doo" in musical tones while they're doing things on the computer... I work for a tech-support line, and people really do make that sound all the time!


    Senior Member
    France, French
    Great, a new forum about languages. Hi everyone! :D

    Virginie, while I would agree that "tac" is sometimes used as an onomatopoeia to imitate the noise your fingers make when you are typing, I think Disco Pig's boss just emphasises the fact that she has reached a stage. We often go "tac-tac-tac" when we are performing a step-by-step task, so it wouldn't be silly to do that while scrolling a web page. Anyway, why not asking her, Disco Pig? :) There's nothing wrong with asking that, you are a learner after all.

    Bonne chance!

    By the way, I'm curious, is there any equivalents to that onomatopoeia in the Irish variety, and any other variety, of English?

    Tanks in advance!


    Senior Member
    France, French native speaker
    "coucou" can be "peek-a-boo" when someone is playing hide-and-seek or it can just mean "hiya", "hi", "hello".
    I agree with Ishatar : "tac-tac-tac" is to punctuate a step-by-step process, just to show other people (or to convince oneself) that we're gradually getting there.
    And "toc toc" is like a "knock, knock" on the door, to ask permission to go into a room.

    disco pig

    New Member
    Hi Ishatar
    Re:question "is there an equivalent in Irish or English?"
    Well in Irish the closest to coucou would be "Dhia Dhuit" which directly translated means may God be with you, but its how we say "hi" in the irish language, as for the rest the only thing i can think of is "sin é" or "déanta"
    the first meaning "thats that" and the second meaning "done"

    In english, for me anyway, coucou=i would say "hi ya"
    and for tac tac and hop, i dont know of any equivalent? maybe like A.D.Burris said "doot doo-doot doo-doo" but very few people i know say that? then again in Ireland we do have our own "made up" words :)


    Senior Member
    France, French
    Thanks for your answer!
    disco pig said:
    then again in Ireland we do have our own "made up" words :)
    That's why I was asking what onomatopoeias you use in Irish English. I forgot to ask about Irish Gaelic, but that's interesting as well. How do you pronounce "é" in Gaelic? Is that similar to the French "é"?

    Onomatopoeia are a very lively part of languages. Maybe I should open a thread about them. :)


    Senior Member
    If "tac tac" is indicating a step-by-step process, as a few people have said, some people will say, "check!" as they complete each step of a task.

    "Computer on - check!"
    "Logged in - check!"
    "Spreadsheet opened - check!"

    I'd say it's a minority of people who do this, and frankly, I find it a little annoying. :) Nevertheless, it is a way that some Americans indicate the completion of each step in a process, even when talking to themselves.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The step by step thing is right on...

    Another example is (some) kids will say tac/toc as they are doing a connect the dots puzzle each time they get to a new number.

    Coucou is a chick word - of course some guys say it, but, well, ummm, I don't and none of my friends do.

    And yes, your boss probably is crazy - she's French ;)


    Senior Member
    coucou is all over the place, so if your boss is insane, she's not alone. :D I couldn't figure it out either for the longest time, but i've had emails titled 'coucou' [from both a french woman annndd a 20-something french guy, so its not just a girl thing haha ;) ]
    By kids, it can be used as a sort of "boo!!" if they're entering a room or pop out from a hiding place, but I'd say its mostly like "heya" in a cutesy way.


    Senior Member
    English, Pennsylvania, United States
    Just in general, I feel like French people tend to talk to no one in particular and use sounds effects more often than English-speakers (well actually I can only really speak for Americans here). That "hop" is a big one. Also this farting noise to convey "I don't know" (it's sometimes accompanied by a shrugging of the shoulders and a funny face!). I'm trying to think of others but it's 2am and it's been a long day.


    Senior Member
    French - France
    maddief24 said:
    Also this farting noise to convey "I don't know" (it's sometimes accompanied by a shrugging of the shoulders and a funny face!). quote]
    For sure, we do that a lot!!!
    And it seems to upset the non-French, since you're not the first one I hear to describe that as a specific French thing! Are there really only the French to do that shoulders shrugging thing ?


    I use a lot "coucou" to say hello to my friends. To me, it's more friendly and tender than "bonjour" ou "salut".

    But use it only with people you're comfortable with ! :p



    Senior Member
    No, we shrug as well in the US of A.

    and although I wouldn't call it a 'farting' noise, we too do a sort of exhale and let our lips sort of roll, like a sigh with a funny noise to it... that's mostly for exasperation or to express "I dont know" or "I give up"


    New Member
    England. English
    -I think the most useful translation of "tac-tac" might be as "etc. etc.". Mostly used (I've found) when people are running through a process or a list that they don't need to describe in detail:
    Maybe something like "Sam, Lena, Aly, tac tac tac" usually with hand gestures running down the list.

    -"Coucou" is a great word-a sort of "hiya" as everyone else has said

    -"Hop" is like "there" or "done" in my experience-like a quick "voila". Also used to indicate surprise when your computer suddenly crashes.

    -"Bah" is surely missing from this list, to indicate you are unsure or pausing for thought, or emphasis, as in "bah non!" ("no way!")- a veritable classic

    -as is "buff" which is like "well...."

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Moderator note: This discussion was started back when we didn't firmly enforce a one expression per thread rule, and it would be challenging to split it up now. If you'd like to discuss additional similar expressions, please check the dictionary to see if we've already discussed them (bof, in particular, has been discussed often and at length); if not, feel free to start a new thread. :)
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