For members


French expression of the day: Mon Q

This - very vulgar - expression originally stated that your butt has become a chicken.

French expression of the day: Mon Q
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know mon Q?

Because it's a really common, albeit vulgar, expression with a pretty funny backstory.

What does it mean?

Mon Q means 'my Q', Q here being a different way to spell cul, which means 'arse' in French.

Mon Q is the slangier version of the already slangy expression mon cul (my arse)It's like saying 'sure' or 'right', only with sarcasm layered so thick that there is no doubt that the underlying meaning is 'like hell it is'.

There's no underlying meaning of mon Q. It's pretty explicit.

Mon Q like saying tu te moques de moi (you're messing with me), but the more impolite version involving the F-word. A (much) less vulgar version is c'est ça (mm, right), but that one you need to add sarcasm to for it to sound right.

The full expression is actually mon cul, c'est du poulet, which means 'my butt, it's chicken'. In other words, 'what you said is BS'.

It's a bit surreal, but the French language has a lot of odd expressions, several of which are inspired by feathery creatures – crier cororico (to shout cock-a-doodle-doo) is an every-day expression for 'to cry victory''.

READ ALSO: 15 everyday French expressions inspired by animals

There are several theories to how mon cul, c'est du poulet originated. One such theory is that the original phrase was Breton: mad ket'ch y-â poulenn – which means 'tomorrow, the weather will be nice'. The irony lies in that Brittany is known to be notoriously rainy and grey.

Use it like this

Tu étais où ? / Au travail, on avait tellement de choses à finir. / Mon cul ! Tu sens l'alcool. – Where were you? / At work, we had so much stuff to finish. / Bullshit! You smell of alcohol.

Il disait qu'on en aura fini avec la pandémie cet été. / Oui, c'est ça, mon cul.. – He said we'll be done with the pandemic this summer. / Yes, sure, like hell we will.

Toute cette connerie d'islamo-gauchisme mon cul. C'est juste du blabla. – All this ridiculous talk of 'islamo-leftism' my arse. It's just chatter.

PS: If you want it spelled out for you, there's a 1-minute French lesson video available online that puts it into, eh, context. It's pretty funny, click HERE to watch it on Vimeo.

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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.