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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French word of the day: Shit

In France, this means something quite different than the English version.

French word of the day: Shit
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know shit?

Because it's key French slang that will improve your street cred in France and also help you avoid embarrassing misunderstandings.

What does it mean?

While shit can be used the same way in French as in English – so to replace zut or merde to say 'damn' – it's mostly associated with drugs.

So if someone comes up to you in the street and asks you Vous cherchez du shit? they're not offering to show you where the nearest toilet is.

Du shit is French slang for 'cannabis' or 'hashish'. 

Strictly speaking there are differences between these terms depending on how the drug is served and prepared. Shit refers to hashish that is 'impure', so generally mixed with other ingredients (and therefore of poorer quality than the real deal). In other words, c'est de la merde – it's shit.

In French it's pronounced more like sheeeeet. 

Cannabis is actually illegal in France, although that doesn't mean you  won't see (and smell) people smoking it on the street.

Use it like this

Tu fumes du shit? – Do you smoke weed? 

Elle était défoncée. Je ne sais pas ce qu'elle avait fumé mais ce n'était pas du shit. – She was sky high. I don't know what she had smoked but it wasn't weed.

Les policiers l'ont contrôlé, il avait une barrette de shit dans son sac. – The police stopped him and he had a strip of weed in his backpack.

Synonyms

Cannabis – cannabis

Haschish – hashish

Beuh – weed

Weed – weed

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

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.

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