For members


French Word of the Day: S’éclater

We've covered how to complain in French, but what about when you need to show genuine enthusiasm?

French Word of the Day: S'éclater

Why do I need to know s'éclater?

Because sometimes you need to be really enthusiastic about an experience. We've given you plenty of vocab to complain in French (and explained how the French themselves got their reputation for ceaseless grumbling) but today is about enthusiasm.

What does it mean?

The literal translation of the verb s'éclater is to explode or to burst, but if you hear it in casual conversation it's more likely to mean a great time or a brilliant experience. It's roughly equivalent to “having a ball” in English or “having a great laugh” or “having great fun”.

So if you're trying to convince a friend to come to salsa dancing classes you could say C'est rigolo et on va bien s'éclater! – It's going to be loads of fun!

Comment s'est passé ton voyage à Hambourg? C'était génial, on s'est éclatés! – “How was your trip to Hamburg? It was great, we had great fun!” 

If you use it with “we” you would say nous nous sommes eclatés – “we had great fun” or with just “I” it would be je me suis éclaté – “I had a ball”.

Or you could ramp it up a bit more by saying On s'est vraiment éclatés meaning “we really had a great time”.

And if you want to talk about something you used to do in the past that was fun, you could say On y allait quand j'étais enfant, et on s'est toujours éclatés, meaning “we used to go when I was a kid and always had a great laugh.” 

It's certainly a casual phrase, and more well used by young people, but it's a good way to convey a bit of cheery enthusiasm for something.


Any other meanings?

In its more serious sense it can mean to explode in both the literal and the metaphorical sense, although if you're talking about a bomb exploding you would be more likely to use the verb exploser.

Les conduites pourraient geler ou même éclater si on les laissait du côté froid de l'isolant – The pipes could freeze and burst if they are left outside the insulation.
Quand la crise economique va-t-elle éclater? – When is the economic crisis going to break? 



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For members


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.