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French word of the day: Larguer

It’s a sign it’s time to dig out the full-fat ice cream and start singing Gloria Gaynor songs.

French word of the day: Larguer
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know larguer?

We've all been there. But have you been dumped in French?

What does it mean?

It comes from the nautical world: larguer un cordage or larguer les amarres can both be translated to ‘cast off’ a boat.

It's a telling image, as larguer means ridding yourself of something you don’t want anymore – like a lover.

It is most commonly used as part of the expression se faire larguer – to be dumped.

Pauvre Pauline, elle s’est fait larguer par son mec depuis trois ans ce week-end. – Poor Pauline was dumped by her boyfriend of three years this weekend.

Je me suis fait larguer par ma meuf l'année dernière, je ne suis toujours pas prêt pour reprendre la vie célibataire  – I was dumped by my girlfriend last year, and I am still not ready to get back into single life.

In other words, to larguer someone is the same as laisser tomber or abandonner. 'Letting go'.

Be careful when using it..

If you want to break up with someone, you probably would not say je te largue (‘I’m dumping you).

It's not wrong, mind you. Linguistically it's correct. However je te largue is a pretty aggressive way of ending things with someone. 

Je te quitte is probably better, in the same way as ‘leaving’ someone sounds more empathetic than ‘dumping’ someone.

A more diplomatic way of dumping someone in French is probably je pense qu’on devrait rompre – I think we should break up.

So if a French friend tells you, je me suis fait larguer hier soir, you know what to do:



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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.