shee-pay-LUH! Click below to hear this. 

Grab him!

(Back to the movie. Press PLAY! It’s getting exciting!)

So we see the bicycle messenger (le coursier) ride onto the scene. He weaves his way among the tables in the sidewalk café, and stops to speak to the waiter. Having been pointed towards Elise, he approaches her table and hands her that envelope. (Did you like that? I backed it up a few seconds for you.)

And then all heck breaks loose. Somebody in Scotland Yard shouts Grab him! into the phone. The detective in the van shouts Chipez-le! into the ear of the field operative.* Chaos erupts in the café; tables are overturned, dishes crash to the ground, customers scream. The coursier is nabbed.

Oh, wait, wait! Pause again!

Chipez-le has nothing to do with chipmunks, but it does have to do with chips. The origin of all these words was a Germanic word which meant a chip of wood. Would you believe that that’s where French got the word une chipe, which is a rag? According to the etymology dictionaries, that’s what seamstresses call the scraps of fabric that they take home from their workplace. (Is that the same as stealing sticky notes and staplers from the office?)

So une chipe (now an old-fashioned word) was something you would grab, steal, snag, swipe, nab, or any one of a long list of other synonyms. And chiper (not at all old-fashioned) is the verb that goes with it.

Okay, why don’t you just keep it on PAUSE? I’ll be back in a few days with the final French expression from The Tourist. Be prepared for more drama!

*I just learned this term thanks to my friend Carrie, the ex-cop. There is a word for everything!


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