French expression of the day: Avoir la dalle

French expression of the day: Avoir la dalle
It's a cool way of saying that you're ready to be fed.

Why do I need to know avoir la dalle?

It's one of those French expressions that are a bit too cool for school (in the sense that you won't learn them there), but that you will undoubtedly encounter when living in France.

What does it mean?

Avoir la dalle is slang for j'ai très faim – I'm very hungry. 

If you say j'ai la dalle, it means that you're starving.

It's pretty colloquial, so you wouldn't hear a fancy French lady say: J’ai la dalle, on va bouffer? I’m starving, let’s eat?

(We have previously explained the meaning of bouffer (colloquial term for 'to eat'), another example of French slang.)

J'ai la dalle, je vendrais ma grand-mère pour un tic-tac – I'm so hungry, I'd sell my grandmother for a Tic-Tac.

On va faire du sport? Non, j'ai trop la dalle – Let's work out? No, I'm too hungry.

Origin of dalle

Dalle dates all the way back to the 14th century, during which it was a term for ‘mouth’ or 'throat', according to the French web dictionary l’Internaute.

The expression avoir la dalle came much later, sometime during the 19th century.

Another expression including dalle is avoir la dalle en pente, which means being able to drink a lot of alcohol.


Other ways of saying that you're starving in French are:

Crever de faim – dying of hunger (colloquial)

Mourir de faim – dying of hunger (less colloquial)

Se casser de faim – breaking of hunger  (colloquial)

Avoir un faim de loup – hungry as a wolf 

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