French Expression of the Day: j’en ai marre

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

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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