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French expression of the Day: Une commère

Because everyone sometimes enjoys a good gossip.

French expression of the Day: Une commère
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know une commère? 

It’s the ideal word to describe someone who has a passion for gossiping.

What does it mean? 

Une commère is the French term for a person who is always on the lookout for a new gossip.

Although commère is a feminine word, it can be used for a man as well (and the une doesn't change into un). She/he loves to chitchat about anyone or anything, as long as it has nothing to do with herself/himself.

She/he is a character known to be curious, who loves informal talking and spreading rumors.


commère is what Anglos would call 'a good gossip'.

In the past, a commère described a common woman who imposed herself thanks to her energy and her language. A commère could also be used to describe a “godmother”.

Use it like this

Usually, French will use une commère in a pejorative way, to signal that someone is irritating.

Mais quelle commère ! – What a gossip!

Si seulement elle arrêtait de faire sa commère, elle pourrait se concentrer sur des choses plus importantes. – If only she stopped being a gossip, she could concentrate on more important stuff.

Il adore être une commère, surtout quand ça concerne les gens du bureau. – He loves being a gossip, especially when it regards people at work. 


Concierge – gossip

Pipelette/ bavarde – someone who doesn't stop talking

In the mood for some good gossip in French? Check our article about the 10 French phrases that will help you out.


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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.