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🇫🇷✨Best French Secret & Etiquette: Why do we say ''tchin-tchin'' when we toast in France?

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

If there is one thing you have to know about the French is their Apéro, short for apéritif. It is sacred in France.

Get into the French LifeStyle: One hour or so before dinner, it's time for Frenchies to unwind over a glass of wine, beer, champagne, or cocktail (or two) and a few snacks. It's not about getting drunk: it's about spending time together and preparing your palate for the meal to follow.

This is the time with friends or family when it's customary to toast.

We say « Santé! » (which means to your Health, like Salud in Spanish) or « tchin-tchin ».

The French say "tchin-tchin" when they toast, drinking Champagne!

And in English we say "cheers!"

These are the most common formulas. We have all used these expressions many times before, but do you know why?

Toasting originally came from an old practice during the Middle Ages. And it was precisely at this time that this famous expression "tchin-tchin" originated. Indeed, it was necessary to knock the wine glasses together, so that the liquid passed from one goblet to another. This ensured that the beverages had not been poisoned by those seated at the neighboring table.

The expression tchin-tchin would have appeared in relation to the tinkling sound.

This word was used to mean that everyone had to toast with the other, in order to prove that the drink was safe to consume. Thus, the first drinker knocked his jug against that of his companion, and the second had to return the same courtesy! That's why we say "tchin-tchin" when we toast.

Another interesting story is about a contingent of French soldiers that had been sent to China in 1900, to help the central power. There, fighters heard locals say "tsing, tsing" (pronounced "tchin tchin") during the festivities. This phrase meant "please", and was a way of inviting other guests to drink.

Intrigued by the amusing sound, the French soldiers then copied this habit, using this formula phonetically, before using it on their return to France.

The team has persisted and has become democratized throughout French Society, but this is not the case in China. Indeed, before having a drink, they say "ganbei!"

Be careful though, "tchin-tchin" is not understood by everyone, depending on where they come from. It is a very French expression, so you will have to think about adapting to the country you are traveling through. Whether you are in Germany, England, China or Spain, things are very different. Remember this especially for Japan. Indeed, in the Land of the Rising Sun, "tchin-tchin" evokes the male sex. Be careful, your Japanese friends will not understand what you're talking about if you say « tchin-tchin »!

So there you have it, this could be an anecdote to tell at your next cocktail party.

For the ones that want to learn more about the French Etiquette, follow my lead:


Commonly speaking, clinking glasses,

« trinquer » in French, is a very usual habit and you would always have to do it if you are celebrating something with friends or during most of the Sunday’s family meals, Christmas or birthdays.

We say: "JE TRINQUE à votre santé! JE TRINQUE à ta santé! We also use the expression: "PORTER UN TOAST", example: "Je porte un toast à Steven, à son courage, à son sens du devoir." ( I propose a toast to Steven, to his courage, and his devotion to duty."