French expression of the day: À la va-vite

French expression of the day: À la va-vite
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
In a rush? This French expression is not as positive as it sounds.

Why do I need to know à la va-vite?

Because it's a neat expression for when things are moving a bit too quickly.

What does it mean?

À la is a common French term that Anglophones and others sometimes incorporate in their own language, and it means 'similar to' or 'in the style of'. 

“She does her hair à la Marilyn Monroe” means that the person in question has styled her hair like Monroe did.

Va-vite means 'go-quick' (va means 'go' and vite means 'quick').

Put together, the full expression à la va-vite means to do something quickly, hastily and without too much of a plan in place. It's what English speakers would call doing something 'on the hoof' or 'winging it'.

Faire quelque chose à la va-vite (to do something on the hoof) often implies that the task is sloppily executed. French online dictionary l'Internaute defines à la va-vite as “de manière hâtive et sans précaution“, which means that something was done in a “hasty and imprudent manner”.

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See also on The Local:

À la va-vite is rarely a compliment. If your boss tells you that Il est évident que votre dernier rapport à été fait à la va-vite – it is obvious that your last report was hastily written – you should be a bit careful before handing something over next time around.
Use it like this
Je n'aime pas faire les choses à la va-vite, mais là je n'avais vraiment pas le choix. – I don't like doing things on the hoof, but here I really didn't have a choice.
Une stratégie de vaccination ne peut pas être développée à la va-vite. – A vaccination strategy cannot be developed in a rushed manner.
Parfois j'ai l'impression que le gouvernement prend ses décisions à la va-vite sans trop regarder le fond du problème. – Sometimes I feel like the government is making its decisions on the hoof without really looking into the core of the problem.


À l’arrache – rushed


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