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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: ‘Un truc de ouf!’

No it's got nothing to do with eggs.

French Expression of the Day: 'Un truc de ouf!'
Photo: Deposit photos
Why have we chosen un truc de ouf?
 
It is an expression you'll hear out and about all the time in France and like a lot of common expressions, it's not one you're likely to come cross in French class. 
 
In fact, it's such a common expression that it's even used in news headlines (see below). 
 
 
 
 
 
So, what does “un truc de ouf” mean?
 
Breaking the expression down, the word truc is commonly used to mean 'thing' or 'thingymajig'. You might hear someone say c’est où le truc? (where’s the thingy gone?) if they can’t find something, and also can’t remember the word for what they have lost.  
 
The ouf part of this expression is verlan, a common French form of slang which involves mixing the letters in a word to create a new word with a similar meaning. Rearrange the letters in ouf and you get fou which is the normal French word for 'crazy'.
 
This might make you think un truc de ouf, literally, 'a crazy thing', has negative connotations, but it’s actually used (most often by younger French people) to describe something exceptional, or out of the ordinary, often in a positive way. 
 
This versatile expression can be used informally to describe an event, a place, an experience, a great deal… basically anything you find exceptional. 
 
It is a variation of un truc de fou, (and related to the phrase une histoire de fou or 'a crazy story', although this expression has more negative connotations).
 
How can I use un truc de ouf in conversation? 
 
If you saw a film that really blew your mind you might say, c’était un truc de ouf! (It was so good!).
 
Or, to describe a negative experience you might say Je suis bloqué dans un embouteillage, dépuis 8h. C’est un truc de ouf! (I’ve been stuck in a traffic jam since 8 am. It’s crazy.)
 
Examples
 
From the headlines above:
 
Bac. Un truc de ouf. – The baccalaureate. A crazy thing.
 
Un truc de ouf! Le reve eveille des Bleus champions du monde  – A crazy thing! The waking dream of the Blues — champions of the world
 
And some other examples:
 
Il m’est arrivé un truc de ouf. – Something crazy happened to me.
 
Je cherchais un hotel en ligne et j’ai trouvé un truc de ouf! – I was looking for a hotel online and I found an amazing place!
 
 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

This might look like a mix of Spanish and French, but it is definitely not Franish.

French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

Why do I need to know mettre le holà?

Because you might need to do this if your friends go from laughing with you to laughing at you. 

What does it mean?

Mettre le holà – pronounced meh-truh luh oh-la – literally means to put the ‘holà’ on something. You might be thinking this must be some clever mix of Spanish and French, but ‘holà’ actually has nothing to do with the Spanish greeting. 

This expression is a way to say that’s enough – or to ‘put the brakes on something.’

If a situation appears to be agitated, and you feel the need to intervene in order to help calm things down, then this might be the expression you would use. Another way of saying it in English might be to ‘put the kibosh on it.’

While the origins of ‘kibosh’ appear to be unknown, ‘holà’ goes back to the 14th century in France. Back then, people would shout “Ho! Qui va là?” (Oh, who goes there?) as an interjection to call someone out or challenge them. 

Over time this transformed into the simple holà, which you might hear on the streets, particularly if you engage in some risky jaywalking. 

A French synonym for this expression is ‘freiner’ – which literally means ‘to break’ or ‘put the brakes on,’ and can be used figuratively as well as literally. 

Use it like this

Tu aurais dû mettre le holà tout de suite. Cette conversation a duré bien trop longtemps, et il était si offensif. – You should have put a stop to that immediately. That conversation went on for too long, and he was so offensive. 

J’ai essayé de mettre le holà à la blague sur ma mère, mais ils étaient sans pitié. – I tried to put a stop to the joke about my mother, but they were merciless.

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