French Word of the Day: Dingue

If you want to sound French, some words really hit the spot when sprinkled into a conversation. 'Dingue' is a great example, and it's a very useful word to have up your sleeve as it can be used in several different ways.

French Word of the Day: Dingue
Why do you need to know dingue?
'Dingue' has several different meanings, so once you get a good grasp of it, the word can come in very handy to express a number of things and feelings. It also has a great ring to it!
So, what does it mean?
Dingue literally means 'crazy' or 'mad'. As a noun, it is used in that sense: un dingue is a crazy person. 
When used as an adjective, it also means 'mad' or 'crazy', but it can also be used in many other ways to express surprise, disbelief, amazement, astonishment or wonder.
So dingue can mean 'incredible', 'amazing', 'unbelievable' or even 'over the top'. 
You can also use it to say you're crazy about something or someone: Il est dingue de son fils (he's crazy about his son) as seen in the headline below.
The French Larousse dictionary defines dingue as “a familiar word that describes something that is striking because of its excessive character. It means bizarre, strange, mad”.
So, as you seen, dingue can really be used in a whole host of ways: why use lots of different superlatives when you can use just one?

There are some suggestions that dingue comes from the word 'dengue', a word we also use in English for the disease dengue fever, and presumably the meaning of dingue derived from the fact people went a bit mad when they caught it.
1. Quand je ne range pas ma chambre, ma mère devient dingue !
When I don't tidy up my room, it drives my mother crazy!
2. Ils voyagent tous le temps, ils ont une vie de dingue !
They travel all the time, they have an amazing life.
3. Quelle coincidence, c'est dingue !
What a coincidence, it's incredible!
4. Sa femme l'a quitté et ça l'a rendu un peu dingue.
His wife left him, and he's gone a bit mad.

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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.