French expression of the day: Au bout

French expression of the day: Au bout
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This expression is key if you want to master the art of French exasperation.

Why do I need to know au bout?

Because dramatic flair is pretty important in France – and in the French language.

What does it mean?

Au bout or à bout translates to 'at the end', 'on the verge' or 'on the edge'.

This is a slang expression and it's usually accompanied by de ma vieau bout de ma vie means 'at the end of my life'.

Not to be used literally, this means that you are exhausted and tired, maybe even a little sick of the world.

For example, if you have had a long week and you're swamped with work even though it's Friday afternoon and you're practically dying to go home and put your feet up, you could exclaim:

Je suis au bout de ma vie ! – I am at the end of my life!

Really it means 'I'm exhausted' or 'I can't take it anymore'.

Use it like this

It's usually thrown out in exasperation and it's a good expression to use slightly ironically. No one will think you're actually dying, but it will definitely earn you sympathy points.

A good alternative to au bout de ma vie is au bout du rouleau, which means 'exhausted' or 'burnt out'.

You can also shorten it to simply, je suis à bout and linger on the boooouuuuuut (however this is slang).

Or, for extra melodrama, say, je suis au bout du bout du bout de ma vie – I'm at the end of the end of the end.

READ ALSO: The 10 best French expressions for the everyday exasperation of life

You can also use it on others:

Les pauvres, l'équipe était complètement au bout de leurs vies à la fin du match. – Poor team, they were totally knackered at the end of the game.

Elle est au bout de sa vie en ce moment, elle taffe trop. – She's completely drained right now, she's working too much.


Je n'en peux plus – I can't take (it) anymore

J'en ai marre – I'm sick of this

Je suis épuisé – I'm exhausted

Je n'ai plus de morale – I'm not motivated anymore

Don't mistake it for this..

Au bout can also mean 'all the way', as in J'y vais jusqu'au bout ! – I'm going all the way!

Here, au bout reflects a set goal rather than a personal state of mind.

For example, before a football game the captain might shout:

On y va jusqu'au bout les gars ! – We're going to go all the way lads!

On continue jusqu'au bout de la rue ? – Shall we continue all the way to the end of the road? 


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