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French Expression of the Day: Larguer les amarres

This nautical French expression can be used at the end of a romance as well as returning home after the summer break.

French Expression of the Day: Larguer les amarres
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know larguer les amarres?

Because everyone feels the need to do this at some point in their life, especially if things start to feel a bit too routine.

What does it mean?

Larguer les amarres roughly pronounced lar-gay lays ah-mahr – translates precisely to “detach from the mooring or anchorage point”, or more simply, to “cast off”.

This nautical French expression – first used in the 18th century – does not just have to do with boats setting off from the harbour, however. It also means to ‘let go of something or someone’.

While the verb “Larguer” is often used to mean “dump” or “break up with” – and larguer les amarres can certainly be used in romantic contexts too – the expression also works to describe moving on or setting off to a new experience or place.

Essentially, it means to launch yourself toward something new, similar to boats raising their anchors and leaving the harbour.

Use it like this

Je suis impatiente de partir seule en randonnée, je me sens prête à larguer les amarres et à partir à l’aventure. – I can’t wait to go hiking on my own, I feel ready to cast off and go on an adventure. 

Tu es prêt à larguer les amarres et déménager dans une nouvelle ville ? Tu n’as pas peur de laisser tout le monde sur place ? – Are you ready to up sticks and move to a new city? You’re not afraid of leaving everyone behind?

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

He's the legendary Englishman who is surprisingly relevant to French political discourse.

French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

Why do I need to know Robin des bois?

Because you might be wondering why the French reference this English outlaw during protest movements 

What does it mean?

Robin des bois roughly pronounced roe-bahn day bwah – is the French version of “Robin Hood” – the legendary outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. 

Robin Hood is part of English folklore, with the first references to him occurring sometime during the 13th or 14th century. He did not become Robin des bois for some time – as the legend did not spread to the majority of French people until at least the 18th or 19th century. 

Robin des bois most likely made his big entrance on the French stage in the 19th century when the novel Ivanhoe (1819), which tells tales of medieval England, was translated into French. 

The fabled outlaw was welcomed by the French, particularly romantic writers and thinkers of the time who saw him as a symbol of the fight against the aristocracy. 

But the French had their own versions of Robin Hood before the English legend made its way to l’Hexagone – like the “Louis Mandrin” who supposedly rebelled against corrupt tax collectors during the Ancien Regime. 

Over the years, the French – particularly those on the political left – have evoked “Robin des bois” during strikes and protests, and it’s relatively common to see protest movements or direct action groups name themselves after Robin Hood.

The English outlaw also had his own French television series between 1963 and 1966 – though this time he was called “Thierry La Fronde” and he lived in France during the Hundred Years’ War.

Use it like this

Nous devons nous attaquer aux actions de Robin des Bois afin d’aider la classe ouvrière à payer leurs factures d’énergie, a déclaré le syndicat dans un communiqué de presse. – We must take action like Robin Hood to help the working class pay for their energy bills, the union said in a flyer. 

Le restaurateur était un véritable Robin des Bois – il avait tendance à surfacturer les tables des riches et à sous-facturer celles de la classe populaire. – The restaurant owner was a real Robin Hood – he had a tendency of overcharging tables of rich people and under-charging those of poor folks.