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French expression of the day: Avoir la dalle

It's a cool way of saying that you're ready to be fed.

French expression of the day: Avoir la dalle

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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French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Surprisingly, this phrase has nothing to do with beekeeping.

French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Why do I need to know faire son miel?

Because you might want to describe how you were able to buy a new wardrobe after the airline lost your luggage.

What does it mean?

Faire son miel – usually pronounced fair soan mee-ell – literally means to make your honey, or to make your own honey. In practice, this phrase actually means to take advantage of a situation, usually by turning a profit or to get the most out of a situation. 

The phrase comes from the idea that bees are actually profiteers: they take advantage of flowers in order to make honey. In the 16th century, this phrase was first put into use, and it followed the idea that bees fly up to the innocent flowers and steal their nectar and pollen for their own purposes. People began to use this as a way to describe people who take advantage of others or particular situations for their own benefit, or those who take things that do not belong to them.

Though the phrase is tied to the idea of turning a situation around for your own benefit, it is does not necessarily have a negative connotation. It can be used both for physical profit, or intellectual. It is somewhat similar to the English phrase of ‘making lemonade from lemons’ – taking a bad situation and making something good out of it.

In fact, French actually has another phrase that is quite similar to this one: faire son beurre, which is potentially even older than faire son miel

Use it like this

La compagnie aérienne a perdu nos sacs, avec tous nos vêtements dedans. Nous avons pu faire notre miel de la situation et acheter un nouvel ensemble de meilleurs vêtements avec l’argent de la compagnie aérienne! – The airline lost our bags, with all our clothes inside. We were able to take advantage of the situation by buying a whole new wardrobe on their dime!

Les oiseaux font leur miel de tous les nouveaux arbres plantés dans la ville. Ils profitent de ce nouvel espace pour faire leurs nids. – The birds are taking advantage of all the new trees being planted across the city. They are enjoying the new space to build their nests.

Le politicien a fait son miel des fonds supplémentaires et en a utilisé une partie pour son propre projet de construction. Ils pourraient le mettre en procès pour corruption. – The politician took advantage of the extra public funds for his own construction project. They might put him on trial for corruption.