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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: zarbi

Another in our series of verlan words... and you might even be tempted to use this one to describe the French argot.

French Word of the Day: zarbi
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know zarbi?
 
Zarbi is frequently used in everyday speech and protests and is a good example of verlan, almost a dialect unto itself of French slang. Using it might even give your French a little boost of street cred. 
 
Origins…
 
Zarbi is a verlan word, meaning that it is formed by inverting another word's syllables (for more on verlan, check out our recent word of the day vénère and our more in-depth analysis of this French argot).
 
In this case, that word is bizarre which is turned into zarbi as follows: bi – zarre => zarre – bi => zarbi
 
How do I use it?
 
Zarbi is the equivalent of saying 'bizarre', 'strange' or 'weird' in English. 
 
For example, you might hear J'ai vu un mec zarbi dans le bus. – I saw a weird guy on the bus.
 
Or, Il y avait beaucoup d'objets zarbis au marché aux puces. – There were many strange objects at the flea market.
 
 
 
 
 

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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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