For members


French phrase of the day: Moit-moit

This phrase is French, but it can refer to going Dutch.

French phrase of the day: Moit-moit
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know moit-moit?

Because it’s nice to share.

What does it mean?

Moit-moit is a shortened version of moitié-moitié (half and half). American readers beware, it does not refer to a dairy product, but anything that’s half one thing and half another – so fifty-fifty is perhaps a better translation.

It sounds almost like moi, but you do pronounce the t at the end.

You will often hear moit-moit used in conversation. If you’re at a restaurant with someone, for example, they might suggest, “On fait moit moit ?” – Shall we split the bill?

Faire moit-moit (to do fifty-fifty) means “to go Dutch”, and is commonly used when deciding who is going to pay.

You will never see it written down, though, as it’s much more informal than moitié-moitié.

The latter phrase is also very common. For example, if you’re in the Alps in winter and ordering a fondue (and if you’re in the Alps in winter and you’re not ordering a fondue then why not?) you might have the choice between beaufort cheese, comté, or moitié-moitié – a mix of the two.

The two words don’t have to be stuck together, either, something can be moitié one thing, moitié something else.

Use it like this

Qui cuisine le plus chez vous ? C’est moit-moit – Who does most of the cooking in your house? It’s fifty-fifty.

On fait moit-moit pour le taxi ? – Should we each pay half for the taxi?

Je suis moitié Américain, moitié Ecossais – I’m half American, half Scottish

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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.