French Word of the Day: Mi

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French Word of the Day: Mi
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This tiny French word can be used in a huge variety of contexts, from sport to cooking to working hours.


Why do I need to know Mi ?

Because while this word might look like the word for “me” or “mine” in other romance languages, in French it has a different meaning and is used in a wide variety of contexts.

What does it mean?

Mi – roughly pronounced mee – and it is not exactly a word, rather it is a French prefix.

It means “half” or “mid” and can be added in front of many different words. It would be most comparable to the English prefix “demi” or “mid” or "half".


You’ll see this prefix used with several words and phrases - for example, “travailler à mi-temps” (to work half-time, or part-time) la mi-temps (half-time of a sports match) or “voter mi-mandat” (to vote in mid-term elections) or “s'arrêter à mi-chemin” (to stop halfway). 

You might also see this prefix used to describe being halfway through a period of time - like a month, for instance. On September 15th, you could say it is “mi-septembre” (mid-September). 

Foodies will probably also recognise it from menus where you might see mi-cuit de thon or mi-cuit au chocolat which literally means 'half cooked' - so either rare in the case of the tuna, or deliciously molten and oozing in the sense of the 'half-cooked' chocolate cake.

Use it like this

Il était en train de raconter une histoire très intéressante lorsqu'il s'est arrêté à mi-chemin pour regarder ses messages. – He was telling a really interesting story when he stopped midway through to check his messages.

Avez-vous l'intention de voter lors des élections américaines de mi-mandat ? Vous pouvez demander votre bulletin de vote par correspondance. – Are you planning to vote in the American midterm elections? You can request your absentee ballot.

La mi-temps était de 29-7, mais ils ont gagné à la fin - the half-time score was 29-7, but they won in the end.


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