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

Examples

  • 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!

    Variations

    • oh la vache !
    • ah la vache !

    Similar Expressions

    • Negative reaction: oh là là ! or sacrebleu

    • Positive reaction: chouette ! or génial !

    • Neutral reaction: ah bon