For members


French expression of the day: Avoir la trouille

Here's an expression for after the horror movies or - if you're freaked out by French bureaucracy - before making your tax deadline tonight.

French expression of the day: Avoir la trouille
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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! 


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
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.