French Expression of the Day: ‘Avoir la patate’

When someone tells you "j'ai la patate" it has nothing to do with them having a potato. In fact it's got more to do with beans.

French Expression of the Day: 'Avoir la patate'
Photo: Deposit Phoos
Why have we chosen it?
You'll hear this punchy expression quite often (hopefully) but it's one of those phrases that you just need to know in order to understand it. Guessing won't be of any use with this one…
So, what does it mean?
The reason why it's tricky is because “avoir la patate” literally means “to have a potato”.
The French using the “patate” as an informal word for “pomme de terre” meaning “potato”. 
But of course the French aren't regularly going around telling people they have a potato. 
In fact “avoir la patate” (in its infinitive form) is more to do with beans than spuds because it means to be full of them, in other words be on great form or in a great mood.
So, you'll hear people in France telling each other “j'ai la patate” when they are really up for it. And you can also use it in the negative form when you want to say you are not really on form – “je n'ai pas le patate”.
It's one of those colloquial expressions that brings a smile to people's faces and will make you sound very French if you use it. 
Some sources date this expression to the beginning of the 20th century due to the fact that the potato has a round shape, like a person's head, it came to mean that someone has a healthy head and by extension is on good form.
1. Elle avait la patate jusqu'au coup de téléphone de sa banque.
She was feeling great until the bank called.
2. Pauvre Jacques, il n'a pas la patate aujourd'hui.
Poor Jacques, he's not feeling too great, he's a bit down today.
Other versions of this expression are “avoir la frite” (to have a chip) and “avoir la pêche” (to have a peach) which mean exactly the same thing.

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French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Though this phrase has a close English equivalent, it's just so much more poetic in French

French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Why do I need to know les grands esprits se rencontrent?

Because you might want to use this phrase the next time you and a friend have the same idea for how to spend vacation.

What does it mean?

Les grands esprits se rencontrent – usually pronounced lay grand eh-spreets suh rahn-cahn-truh – literally translates to “the great minds meet each other” or “the great spirits meet each other.” More appropriately, the very poetic phrase in French translates to the English expression “great minds think alike.” 

For the French phrase, it actually finds its origins with Voltaire. In 1760, he wrote a letter to another well-known French writer at the time and included the phrase: “Les beaux esprits se rencontrent” (the beautiful minds meet each other) to emphasise the fact that both expressed the same idea at the same time.

Over time, the phrase switched from ‘beautiful’ minds to ‘great’ minds, but the meaning remains the same. The phrase is usually said ironically in French, and can be used more or less interchangeably with the English version of this expression (which curiously has different origins altogether). However, sadly, the French version does not include the snarky reply: “and fools seldom differ” 

Use it like this

J’avais envie de pizza pour le dîner mais je lui ai demandé ce qu’il voulait quand même et il a dit pizza. Les grands esprits se rencontrent ! – I was wanting pizza for dinner, but I asked him what he wanted anyways, and he said pizza. Great minds think alike!

Nous pensons tous deux que la vue de Paris depuis le Belvédère de Belleville est la meilleure de la ville. Les grands esprits se rencontrent. – We both think that the view of Paris from Belvédère de Belleville is the best of the city. Great minds think alike.