For members


French expression of the day: Au bout

This expression is key if you want to master the art of French exasperation.

French expression of the day: Au bout
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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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For members


French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Surprisingly, this phrase has nothing to do with beekeeping.

French Expression of the Day: Faire son miel

Why do I need to know faire son miel?

Because you might want to describe how you were able to buy a new wardrobe after the airline lost your luggage.

What does it mean?

Faire son miel – usually pronounced fair soan mee-ell – literally means to make your honey, or to make your own honey. In practice, this phrase actually means to take advantage of a situation, usually by turning a profit or to get the most out of a situation. 

The phrase comes from the idea that bees are actually profiteers: they take advantage of flowers in order to make honey. In the 16th century, this phrase was first put into use, and it followed the idea that bees fly up to the innocent flowers and steal their nectar and pollen for their own purposes. People began to use this as a way to describe people who take advantage of others or particular situations for their own benefit, or those who take things that do not belong to them.

Though the phrase is tied to the idea of turning a situation around for your own benefit, it is does not necessarily have a negative connotation. It can be used both for physical profit, or intellectual. It is somewhat similar to the English phrase of ‘making lemonade from lemons’ – taking a bad situation and making something good out of it.

In fact, French actually has another phrase that is quite similar to this one: faire son beurre, which is potentially even older than faire son miel

Use it like this

La compagnie aérienne a perdu nos sacs, avec tous nos vêtements dedans. Nous avons pu faire notre miel de la situation et acheter un nouvel ensemble de meilleurs vêtements avec l’argent de la compagnie aérienne! – The airline lost our bags, with all our clothes inside. We were able to take advantage of the situation by buying a whole new wardrobe on their dime!

Les oiseaux font leur miel de tous les nouveaux arbres plantés dans la ville. Ils profitent de ce nouvel espace pour faire leurs nids. – The birds are taking advantage of all the new trees being planted across the city. They are enjoying the new space to build their nests.

Le politicien a fait son miel des fonds supplémentaires et en a utilisé une partie pour son propre projet de construction. Ils pourraient le mettre en procès pour corruption. – The politician took advantage of the extra public funds for his own construction project. They might put him on trial for corruption.