French expression of the day: Avoir la trouille

French expression of the day: Avoir la trouille
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Here's an expression for after the horror movies or - if you're freaked out by French bureaucracy - before making your tax deadline tonight.

Why do I need to know avoir la trouille?

Because French has several different words for 'fear', and this one is stepping it up to next level.

What does it mean?

Avoir la trouille translates to 'to have the funk', which is really what the French say when they mean 'being terrified'.

In France, feelings – like hunger, thirst, coldness, etc.-  is often something you 'have' rather than 'are'.

If you know the expression avoir peur (having fear), avoir la trouille is basically the same thing, just further out on the scale of terror.

French online dictionary l'Internaute defines the expression as an “intense and uncontrolled terror that captures the attention as a whole.”

J'ai la trouille ! – I'm scared to death!

It's quite colloquial and a better way to say that you are 'more than scared' in a formal setting would probably be effrayé (horrified).

Use it like this

J'ai la trouille rien qu'à la pensée de faire mes impôts. – I'm freaking out just at the thought of doing my taxes tonight.

Ce film était horrible, ça m'a foutu la trouille – That film was awful, I was scared stiff.

Tu m'as fichu une de ces trouilles en criant ! – You scared me to death when screaming! 


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