French Expression Explained: La Vache

A surprised woman looks at papers in her home

Jose Luis Palaez, Inc. / Getty Images

The familiar French exclamation la vache ! is a mild oath, used to express any moderate-to-medium reaction such as surprise, indignation, or admiration.

Expression: La vache !

Pronunciation: [la vahsh]

Meaning: holy cow! wow! damn!

Literal translation: the cow

Register: familiar


  • La vache, tu arrives tôt !
    Holy cow, you're early!
  • La vache ! Qu'est-ce que tu as fait ?
    Damnit, what have you done!?
  • La vache, j'ai trouvé 100 euros !
    Wow, I found 100 euros!


  • oh la vache !
  • ah la vache !

Similar Expressions

  • Negative reaction: oh là là ! or sacrebleu
  • Positive reaction: chouette ! or génial !
  • Neutral reaction: ah bon
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Team, ThoughtCo. "French Expression Explained: La Vache." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). French Expression Explained: La Vache. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "French Expression Explained: La Vache." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).