You know that famous James Brown song, “I Got You (I Feel Good)”? That’s what pops into my head every time I hear the very popular French expression avoir la pêche! Keep reading to find out what it means and learn how to use this cheery idiom like a pro!
To have the peach. ?
To feel great and have lots of energy.
Être en très bonne forme et avoir beaucoup d’énergie.
The Story Behind It
Though avoir la pêche is a very popular French expression, it has a mysterious past. What’s somewhat certain is this expression dates from the 1960s, as documented by the Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales. But what inspired it?
Some say it’s a reference to the energy behind a powerful coup de poing or punch (une pêche is a slang term for such a blow). However, others say it’s related to the expression avoir la patate, which also means to feel great. (Both une pêche and une patate are slang terms for the head and from this we get the idea of a healthy, happy mind.) Bref, there are theories aplenty about the peach and why having one makes you so cheerful, but none have proven… unimpeachable. ?
Personally, I like to associate avoir la pêche with the peachy glow of a person’s cheeks when they’re smiling and bursting with energy… But sadly, we’ll never know if that’s the story!
Grammar and Usage
Note that avoir la pêche is an informal expression—the examples below highlight this! Its playful nature delights most francophones and it’s by no means vulgar, but it’s definitely not for formal situations.
Just like its food-related synonyms, avoir la frite and avoir la patate, avoir la pêche retains the definite article la when formulated in the negative. So when someone or something is lacking energy, the expression becomes ne pas avoir la pêche.
Finally, bon, I know you’ve heard it before but let’s repeat the mantra: accents matter! Here, we do need the accent circonflexe (the ˆ mark) over the first e in pêche—it’s a vestige of the old spelling, pesche, whose S it replaced. (Read more about this fascinating spelling phenomenon here!) This means “peach” has the same spelling as “fishing” (also la pêche)… but at least we can differentiate them from le péché, which means “sin”!
|Hier, j'étais fatigué et super stressé, mais là, ça va beaucoup mieux. J'ai la pêche !||Yesterday, I was tired and super stressed out, but now, things are a lot better. I'm in excellent spirits!|
|Je ne sais pas pourquoi mais je n'ai pas trop la pêche en ce moment.||I don't know why but I'm not feeling too great right now.|
|Ça va ? T'as la pêche ?||How's it going? You stoked?|
|Ben dis donc, t'as la pêche toi aujourd'hui !||Wow! Well, you're full of energy today!|
|* T'as = Tu as|
"T'as" is a contraction of "tu as." It is very informal and reflects the pronunciation in rapid speech.
For Advanced Learners
Can’t get enough of the peach? I hear you! Luckily, avoir la pêche is an expression that branches out into many fascinating applications, making it excellent for advanced learners! Here are three related micro-lessons to expand your French vocabulary:
1️⃣ DONNER LA PÊCHE
In addition to having the peach, we can also say something gives the peach. This is for something that makes you happy and gives you energy.
Merci pour ces bonnes nouvelles, ça donne la pêche ! = Thanks for this good news; it makes me happy!
une chanson qui te donne la pêche = a song that makes you happy
2️⃣ QUELLE PÊCHE !
What peach! This expression includes the exclamative quel (or, in this case, its feminine form, quelle), meaning “what (a)…!” It expresses a strong appreciation of the energy or dynamism of something or someone.
Quelle pêche, quel talent, ces danseurs ! = What energy, what talent these dancers have!
Similar to how anglophones say “peachy,” francophones may use the adjective pêchu.e.s in informal situations. Pêchu, however, refers to someone or something that is dynamic, punchy, with an energy that pops. You’ll often see it used to describe a car or uptempo music.
un moteur pêchu = a punchy motor
une mélodie pêchue = an energetic melody
- To feel really good / awesome / fantastic… l.
- To feel peachy. l.
- To be in good spirits.
- To be stoked. l.
- To be full of beans. * This only applies in British English because the American understanding of this is “to be full of nonsense.”
- Être en pleine forme.
- Se sentir plein d’énergie.
- Avoir la frite. l.
- Avoir la patate.
- Péter la forme / le feu.
- Avoir du tonus.
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