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French word of the day: Huppé

Because knowing how to label the rich is an important part of your French education.

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

Why do I need to know huppé?

Because it is sometimes more accurate than its wider synonym riche (rich).

What does it mean?

Huppé can refer to a bird had has a huppe (puff of feathers) on its head, but here it means ‘posh’, ‘well-to-do’ or ‘upper crust’.

Whether there is a link between being posh and that feathery crown some birds are equipped with is not really clear. But the image can be helpful for remembering the meaning of huppé, if you think about those huge, feathery hats upper-class women used to wear back in the day.

Huppé implies more than simply having a lot of money. French dictionary Larousse defines huppé as someone who both is rich and comes from a high social class.

But it can also be a thing or a place. An expensive and extravagant restaurant is huppé, a wealthy part of Paris as well (like ‘swanky’ in English).

Huppé is an adjective, so you say une personne huppée (a posh person), des gens huppés (posh people), un endroit huppé (a posh place).

Use it like this

Ils vont toujours dans des restaurants huppés, ce n’est pas trop mon genre. – They always go to fancy restaurants, it’s not really my style.

Elle fait partie de la famille la plus huppée de la ville. Si tu avais vu leur maison.. – She’s part of the poshest family in town. If you’d seen their house..

Nos bureaux sont dans un quartier assez huppé, mais il y en a quelques endroits très sympatiques pour déjeuner. – Our offices are in a pretty chic area, but there are a few quite nice places to have lunch.


Cossu – well-to-do

Aisé – well-to-do

Privilégié – privileged 

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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.