French Expression of the Day: j’en ai marre

No, this isn't the French way to refer to the legendary guitarist of The Smiths. Read on to find out what this extremely common French expression actually means.

French Expression of the Day: j'en ai marre
Photo: Depositphotos

Why do I need to know j'en ai marre?

Complaining is considered something of a hobby in France and this essential expression will help get you started. 
So, what does it mean?
The expression J'en ai marre means 'I'm fed up', 'I'm sick of it' and 'It's getting on my nerves'. 
For example, you might say: J'en ai marre de tes retards incessants! –  'I've had it with you constantly being late!'
Or, J’en ai marre de ces grèves! Toujours la grève! – 'I'm fed up of these strikes! Always strikes!'
The infinitive of the expression is en avoir marre ('to be fed up', 'to be sick of'). 
The expression, while informal, is not rude or impolite – as long as you're not telling someone that you're fed up of them to their face, of course. 
This is the real Johnny Marr. Photo: AFP
According to some sources, the expression dates back to the late 19th/early 20th centuries and came from an old French verb se marer which meant 'to be bored'. 
Others say the expression comes from the Spanish word 'mareo', which originally meant 'sea sickness' before it evolved to mean 'boredom'. 
However French linguist Alain Rey argues that neither of these explanations is right, saying that the word marre actually comes from mar a slang word in France in the 1880s. The word meant the share of stolen goods after a theft: en avoir mar (to have one's share). This was then distorted to mean that you had had too much – or 'had enough'.

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French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

You'll definitely need this phrase as the temperature rises.

French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

Why do I need to know faire trempette?

Because you might need this phrase to describe that urge to jump in the water once the temperature hits a certain degree this summer.

What does it mean?

Faire trempette – usually pronounced fair trahm-pet – literally means ‘to make dipping sauce’ because the word ‘trempette’ is actually a condiment, or a dip, typically used for raw vegetables. In Canada, the dip is popular, and quite similar to Ranch dressing – a great addition to your crudités (vegetable snacks). 

But this phrase does not have anything to do with your healthy finger-food – in the colloquial sense, the phrase faire trempette actually means to take a dip – as in to go swimming.  

The way the expression came to become about swimming and not eating is pretty logical – in the 1600s a ‘trempette’ was a slice of bread dipped in liquid. As time went on people started to say ‘faire la trempette’ to describe the action of dipping food in liquid – like bread into wine – prior to taking a bite.

It became the metaphorical way of talking about taking a very short bath in the 19th century and now it’s the best way to reference the urge to  splash around for a second before heading back to the lounge chairs to tan. 

While you may  not have heard of this phrase before, you’ve definitely heard its synonym: the verb ‘se baigner’ (‘to bathe,’ but more so used as ‘to swim’). 

Use it like this

Comme la température augmente, je suis encore plus tentée d’aller faire trempette dans le canal. – As the temperature gets higher, I am even more tempted to go take a dip in the canal. 

Je pense que je vais faire trempette et ensuite m’allonger pour bronzer au soleil pendant un moment. – I think I will take a dip and then lay out to tan for a bit.