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French word of the day – Gâté

What could French football star Kylian Mbappé possibly have in common with a whining child?

French word of the day - Gâté

Why do I need to know gâté?

If you have or are planning to have children in France, you will want to avoid them becoming it.

What does it mean?

Gâté comes from the verb gâter, which means ‘to spoil’ [someone].

Gâter quelqu’un – to spoil someone 

If your French boyfriend texts je vais te gâter ce soir (‘I’m going to spoil you tonight), it’s a green light to start fantasising about flowers, chocolate or a home cooked meal.

If you do come home to one of the three above (or any other surprise), you could exclaim:

Mais tu me gâtes! – You’re spoiling me!

Which is a way of expressing that you appreciate the gesture.

In this case, it’s about being spoiled:

Être gâté – to be spoiled 

Enfant gaté 

So as you see, gâter can be a good thing, but – like spoiled – it has a bad side too.

A common expression in France is enfant gâté, 'spoiled child'.

Son fils est tellement gâté, c'est abusé! – Their son is so spoiled, it's horrendous

Je ne supporte pas des enfants gâtés qui pleurent tout le temps – I can't deal with spoiled children who cry all the time

But enfant gâté is a label not necessarily reserved for children.

French football start Kylian Mbappé has been called enfant gâté several times. 

French World Cup hero Kylian Mbappé. Photo: AFP

Here in a headline of an article published by Breizh, a news website in Brittany:

Un an après son titre mondial : Mbappé, l’enfant gâté du foot français – One year after the World Cup title: Mbappé, the spoiled child of French football.

Here by Christophe Bourgois-Costantini, a French football coach, during a televised debate on the French sports channel RMC:

'Mbappé number 10? I think that's the whims of a spoiled child.




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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.