French Word of the Day: aïe

More of a sound than a word but still very common... although hopefully you won't need it too often.

French Word of the Day: aïe
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Why do I need to know aïe?

Aïe is a sound you will hear a lot around France and it may be one that moves you to ask the person who utters it if they're ok. 

One thing you can be sure of is that you definitely don't want to be in a position where you're saying it a lot. 

So, what does it mean?

The action that goes with this word is a deep frown or perhaps even a wince of pain, because it is the French equivalent of 'ouch!' or 'ow!' in English. 

So for example you might say: Aïe! Je me suis piqué le doigt. – Ow! I pricked my finger. 

Or Aïe! Aïe! Aïe! Je viens de me couper. – Ouch! I just cut my finger.

It can also mean 'oh', 'oh dear', 'oh no' or 'oh my'. 

In this case, you might say: Aïe! Que se passe-t-il? – Oh my! What's happening? 

How is it pronounced?

This one's a little hard to put into words, but luckily here's an example of how to pronounce it online

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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.