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French Expression of the Day: Fais gaffe!

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French Expression of the Day: Fais gaffe!
Photo: Deposit photos
09:58 CEST+02:00
If you live in France and hear the words "fais gaffe!", it's time to pay attention.
Why have we chosen it?
 
"Faire gaffe"(in the infinitive form) is something you never come across when you're learning the language at home but it's hard to escape once you're in France. 
 
And even for those who have studied a considerable amount of French, "faire gaffe" or "fais gaffe" as you more likely to hear it, can easily trip you up. 
 
So, what does it mean?
 
It means "be careful" or "watch out" which is why it's certainly a handy one to know just in case there are any moments when a French person shouts it at you. 
 
It is actually the slang or informal version for "faire attention".
 
The confusing part, however, is that "faire une gaffe" literally means "to make a mistake" -- so the opposite of what the slang version means without the word "une". 
 
If you're addressing one person you would say, "fais gaffe!" and if you're using the plural form you would say, "faites gaffe!". 
 
You can also say "fais gaffe à toi" to mean "watch yourself."
 
Origin
 
The exact origin of "faire gaffe" seems unclear although some say that the reason for the confusion over the very different meanings of the French word "gaffe" as in "mistake" or "blunder" and the slang meaning is that they come from different places.  
 
It is believed that the slang version of "gaffe" could come from the German verb "gaffen" which means "to watch with your eyes wide open".
 
Examples
 
1. Fais gaffe! C'est fragile.
Watch out! It's delicate. 
 
2. Fais gaffe à la marche !
Watch out for the step!
 
(The above two examples are from wordreference.com)
 
3. Fais gaffe à qui tu fais rentrer chez toi
Be careful who you let in your house
 
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French Expression of the Day: Ne pas arriver à la cheville de quelqu'un

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