For members


French phrase of the day: S’emballer

Hands up if you do this even when you know it's a bad idea.

French phrase of the day is 's'emballer'.
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know s’emballer?

Because while your friends might call you a party pooper for telling them not to do this, it will help them avoid crushing disappointment down the line.

What does it mean?

As we get closer to Christmas, you’ll increasingly hear retail workers ask if you’d like an emballage cadeau – gift wrapping. That’s because emballer on its own means “to wrap”.

There is another common meaning, though, which is “to excite”, or “to transport”. After trying out a new restaurant, for example, you could say, C’était bon, mais ça ne m’a pas emballé – It was good, but I wasn’t blown away.

Used as a reflexive verb, s’emballer retains this idea of excitement – it means getting excited too quickly, as in someone who gets carried away, or gets ahead of themselves.

The term’s versatility allows for visual puns like the tweet below about the Agen rugby team ending its losing streak streak: “Finally a home win after 2 years and 3 days, no reason to get carried away”, followed by an image of the wrapped Arc de Triomphe to represent Agen supporters who were evidently not taking that advice.

It’s very often used as a warning, when you catch yourself or a friend starting to fantasise a bit too much about something that may never happen.

When it’s not related to human behaviour, s’emballer refers to something that’s going too quickly. Whether it’s a horse (Le cheval s’est emballé – the horse bolted), or the price of everyday goods (L’inflation s’est emballée – inflation has skyrocketed).

Use it like this

On ne devrait pas s’emballer, on ne sait pas encore si les propriétaires vont accepter notre offre – We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, we don’t know whether the owners are going to accept our offer yet.

Je m’emballe toujours trop vite au début d’une relation – I always get carried away at the start of a relationship.

Ne t’emballe pas, il faudra quand même passer un entretien – Don’t get too excited, you’ll still have to have an interview

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Faire d’une pierre deux coups

The most organised of people will likely make use of this handy French Expression.

French Expression of the Day: Faire d’une pierre deux coups

Why do I need to know faire d’une pierre deux coups ?

Because you might want to use this expression after a particularly productive errand-running-day. 

What does it mean?

Faire d’une pierre deux coups – roughly pronounced fair doon pee-air duh koo – translates exactly to “make one rock two shots.” 

If your first instinct is to find it similar to the English expression, “to kill two birds with one stone,” then you would be correct. The French expression carries the same meaning as the English one – which is to achieve two goals at the same time.

The origin of this phrase – for both languages – goes back to the time when people used to hunt with a sling. It would be a great achievement for a hunter to manage to kill two birds with a single stone. 

The expression is still used today, with variations in several different languages, even though most of mankind no longer uses stones to hunt. Nevertheless – it is quite a feat to manage to accomplish two distinct goals in just one action.

Use it like this

J’ai fait d’une pierre deux coups en achetant le cadeau et le repas au même endroit. – I killed two birds with one stone by buying the gift and the meal at the same place.

Vous pouvez faire d’une pierre deux coups en postant votre lettre en même temps que vous récupérez votre colis?  – You could kill two birds with one stone by mailing your letter at the same time as picking up your package?