French Expression of the Day: La charge mentale

The Local (
The Local ([email protected]) • 16 Mar, 2023 Updated Thu 16 Mar 2023 09:54 CEST
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Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This French expression might help you describe why you are so tired at the end of the day.


Why do I need to know la charge mentale?

Because many people - especially women - might feel this at some point in their lives.

What does it mean?

La charge mentale roughly pronounced lah shar-juh mahn-tal – translates precisely to ‘the mental burden’ or ‘the mental load’ in English.

The French term has recently resurfaced after being popularised by feminist comics author Emma, in a series about household gender roles and expectations of women. The phrase generally describes the challenge of having to expend mental energy on both home-life and work-life.


It was first coined in 1984 by sociologist Monique Haicault, who defined it as “having to think simultaneously about things belonging to two physically separated worlds”.

Oftentimes, la charge mentale is applied to and by women when discussing feelings of exhaustion, stress and obligation to both manage the household and family affairs in addition to their own work outside of the home, although it can be used by anyone to describe feeling burdened by the mental load.

Use it like this

Les gens pensent que la charge mentale se résume à l'idée d'aller chercher les enfants après le travail, mais c'est bien plus que cela. – People think that ‘the mental load’ is just thinking about picking your kids up after work, but it is much more than that.

Pour moi, la charge mentale consiste également à veiller à ce que mon mari se souvienne des travaux ménagers qu'il a acceptés de faire. – For me, the mental load is also having to remind my husband about the household work he agreed to do.



The Local ([email protected]) 2023/03/16 09:54

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