For members


French word of the Day: Mon pote

Feeling convivial or well disposed towards a French person? It might be time to wheel this one out.

French word of the Day: Mon pote

Why do I need to know mon pote?

If you've been in France for a while you will (hopefully) start to make friends and that's where this one will come in handy.

What does it mean?

It's a slang term for friend, so it's similar to mate, buddy, pal, chum, bessie or crony.

So if you reckon you've clicked with someone you can describe them as mon pote (my friend) or even mon meilleur pote  (my best friend) if you know them really well.

The word stays the same in the feminine, so a female friend would be ma pote and if you have more than one friend (lucky you) they would be mes potes.

So you could say Mon pote n'arrêtait pas de me rabattre les oreilles avec ce groupe – My buddy was going on and on about this band.

Or Céline est ma meilleur pote – Céline is my best friend.

You can also use it if you're talking to somebody, rather than about them.

Tu veux venir au match? Désolé mon pote, je suis occupé – Do you want to come to the match? Sorry mate, I'm busy.

Tu vas te faire engueuler par ta nana, mon pote – You're going to get a telling off from your missus, pal.

Any other options?

Yes, just like English French has lots of different options for describing someone close to you. There is the more formal ami or amie but there are a number of slang terms. Although rather confusingly many of them can be used to signify either a platonic friend or a sexual partner.

Some of the more common ones are mec, meuf and copain.

Mec is used for men and again can be used for talking about someone or to them, so ça va, mec? would roughly translate as Alright mate?

But if you said Mon nouveau mec est tellement chaud  (My new bloke is so hot) you'd be talking about a romantic attachment rather than a friend.

The female equivalent is meufa Verlan version of femme (woman). This used to be used more by blokes to talk about women, and was considered slightly sexist – it would be like calling someone a chick or a honey. 

In recent years though it has been reclaimed by woman and you will frequently hear younger girls referring to – mes meufs (my gal pals) or greeting each other with ça va, meuf – OK love?

Likewise copain means mate J'ai rendez-vous avec mes copains à la gare – I'm meeting my mates at the station.

But if someone refers to mon copain or ma copine it's likely they're talking about a romantic partner. The word is generally favoured by slightly older couples who are in a long term relationship but aren't married.

For more French words and expressions, head to our French word of the Day section.

Member comments

  1. As a person who would like an extended stay in France, it would be helpful to know how to pronounce these words as to not offend the Francois!

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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.