French Word of the Day: Mollo

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 6 Feb, 2023 Updated Mon 6 Feb 2023 12:09 CEST
French Word of the Day: Mollo

This French word, derived from Italian, reminds us to slow down.


Why do I need to know mollo?

Because if someone shouts this at you, it’s probably for your own good.

What does it mean?

Mollo - roughly pronounced moh-loh - is all about slowing down the rhythm, usually because you need to be extra careful.

Both of the ‘o’s in mollo are pronounced the same way - how you’d pronounce the letter on its own.

It often takes the form of a command, either on its own, or as part of the expression y aller mollo - to take it easy, without rushing. If our friend is helping you move and you see him picking up an expensive mirror for example, you could say, “Vas-y mollo, c’est fragile” (Take it easy, it’s fragile).


You can also tell someone “Vas-y mollo” when the thing that’s fragile is a person - for example, you can use it if a friend is preparing to confront someone but you think they should go easy on them.

If it doesn’t sound like a French word, that’s because it’s not. According to Stéphane Bern, the term comes from the Italian verb mollare, meaning to let go, or to give in.

But it’s also close to other French words with similar meanings. The term molle means “soft”, and by extension, mollement means “gently”.

Use it like this

On y va mollo au départ sinon on va être fatigué – Let’s take it easy at the start, otherwise we’re going to get tired

Mollo sur le sel ! C’est pas bon pour le coeur – Easy on the salt! It’s not good for the heart


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candyb 2021/10/09 15:32
Hi: I wish The Local would add the little speaker to pronounce the word. I don't speak French and it would be helpful to hear the word. Thank you.

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