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French phrase of the day: Faire son Kévin

Do you know a Kevin? They might not be thrilled about this phrase.

French phrase of the day: Faire son Kévin
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know faire son Kévin?

This is French teen-speak, so if you plan on hanging out with teenagers or would just quite like to know what they're on about, this is a handy little phrase.

What does it mean?

It means to be childish, immature or just generally lame and annoying.

It's unlikely to be one that you will need during an appointment with your bank manager, but if you hear a French teenager tell their mate Jean-Pierre, arrête de faire ton Kévin it basically means that Jean-Pierre is being childish, immature and getting on everybody's tits.

You can use it to talk about people too.

Ah, il a fait son Kévin donc je suis parti – Oh, he was being really annoying so I left 

So why does Kévin get this dubious honour?

Well the name Kévin briefly became extremely popular in France, with 14,087 French parents naming their baby boys Kévin in 1991, largely on the back of two films – Dancing with Wolves starring Kevin Costner and Home Alone featuring Kevin McAllister.

READ ALSO How France fell in and out of love with Kévin

The name then rapidly fell out of favour, meaning that by the mid 2000s there was a whole generation of teenage Kévins and the word came to be associated with the classic teenager – grumpy, lazy and annoying.

So if you accuse someone of 'doing their Kévin' it means they are acting like everyone's worst stereotype of a teenager.

There is a female version – faire son Vanessa – but it's much less widely used.



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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.