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French word of the day: Dégage

Need to let someone know that they are not welcome and need to leave you alone immediately?

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

Why do I need to know dégage?

We hope you won’t need it much, but if you want to tell someone to get lost, this is a winner.

What does it mean?

Dégage means 'get lost'.

It can have other meanings depending on the context, however we’re talking specifically about the interjection version of the verb – dégage! – that French people use when they’re annoyed with someone and want them to leave.

It is a colloquial expression, and French people don’t say “tu pourrais dégager, s’il te plait ?” (just like British people don’t say “would you be so kind as to get lost, please?” Actually on second thoughts, maybe some do).

Mostly, it's used when someone is pretty serious about wanting another person to leave.

A teenage girl might use it to get her little brother out of the room:

Dégage, Paul! Laisse-moi tranquille! – Bugger off, Paul! Leave me alone!

An older woman might use it to chase away someone who is giving her unwanted attention on the street:

Dégage! Beat it!

Other ways of translating it are 'beat it', 'scram' and 'piss off'.


Being a rich language, French has many different ways of telling someone to bugger off (read them as though they were accompanied by an exclamation point):

Pars  – leave

Partez – leave (polite version, or if you're talking to several people)

Va te faire foutre – bugger off (very colloquial, foutre is a pretty harsh insult)

Allez vous faire foutre! (funnily enough, you can be polite while telling someone to se faire foutre)

Fous le camp – bugger off

Foutez le camp – bugger off (polite/all of you)

Tirez-vous – run/get lost

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

This expression doesn't actually have much to do with lunchtime.

French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

Why do I need to know chercher midi à quatorze heures?

Because when someone makes what should take fifteen minutes into an hour-long effort, you might want an appropriate phase.

What does it mean?

Chercher midi à quatorze heures – usually pronounced share-shay-mid-ee-ah-cat-orz-ur – literally means “to look for noon at 2 pm.” When taken literally, the expression does not make much sense. However, in practice, it means “to make a simple thing overly complicated.” It is basically the French equivalent of “don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”

The expression is quite old, but it is still in use…though it might be more common to find it spoken in the countryside rather than on Twitter.

It was first used as early as the 16th century – the version then was “to look for noon at eleven.” As time went on, it changed to reflect its current form in the 17th century. 

As noon is an important marker for the middle of the day, particularly as l’heure de déjeuner (lunch time), the expression makes fun of making something overly difficult. 

You’ll most likely hear this in the negative command form – as it is something you should probably avoid doing.

Use it like this

Pourquoi avoir pris la route la plus longue pour aller au supermarché ? Ne cherchez pas midi à quatorze heures. – Why take the longest route to get to the supermarket? Don’t overcomplicate things.

Tu n’as pas besoin d’essayer toutes les lettres de l’alphabet pour trouver le Wordle. C’est mieux de penser à des mots simples. Ne cherche pas midi à quatorze heures. – You don’t need to try every letter in the alphabet to get the Wordle. Just think of simple words. Don’t over complicate it.