French Expression of the Day: Larguer les amarres

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

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


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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