French Word of the Day: Tranquille

You'll hear the word tranquille used in so many contexts in French that it's a need to know word.

French Word of the Day: Tranquille
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Why have we chosen it as the word of the day?

You might already be familiar with the adjective tranquille but, if you keep your ears open, you’ll hear it popping all the time in places you wouldn’t automatically expect in French conversations. So it's well worth knowing how to use it.

What does tranquille mean?

A direct translation for tranquille will bring up the words 'calm', 'quiet', and 'peaceful'. 

In some cases, this is exactly what it means – if you’re having a quiet day in the office you could definitely describe it as tranquille. Or if you’re planning to relax at home next weekend home you’ll have a week-end tranquille.

You will also hear tranquille used by stressed out parents. Tiens-toi tranquille! means 'be quiet!'. And if a child wants their parents to stop bugging them she or he is likely to respond laisse moi tranquille, which means 'leave me alone'.

It can also be used to describe how peaceful a place is. Such as cette parc est très tranquille, which would mean 'this park is really quiet'.

You’ll hear sois tranquille used to mean ‘don’t worry’, and in colloquial French the word tranquille has taken on a meaning that is closer to this context.

Between friends, and especially young French people, this adjective can be used to say you’re chilled out or have no worries.

For example, you might hear Ça va? Tranquille. (How are you? All good.)

It can also be used as a way to say ‘sure’ or ‘no problem’, such as Tu as retrouver tes clés? Tranquile. (Did you find your keys? Sure.) 

And in the headline below it translates as: “Chilled: Elon Musk smokes a joint in a live interview”.

So, how can I use it in a sentence?

– Tout se passe bien ici? – Oui, tranquille.

–  Is everything ok in here? – Yeah, all good.

– Vous allez arriver à l’heure? – Tranquille.

– Are you going to arrive on time? – Sure, no problem.

Member comments

  1. Just as a matter of interest. In Guernsey, my wife`s native island,they have several Rue Tranquille where cyclist, horse riders and pedestrians have the right of way over cars.
    Our eldest son lives in a Route Tranquille and it is great to know we cannot enjoy a walk in it without fear of being being in danger.

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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.