French Expression of the Day: Avoir la banane

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French Expression of the Day: Avoir la banane
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This usually has nothing to do with fruit.


Why do I need to know avoir la banane?

Because you should know you’re not going crazy if your French friend is talking about having this fruit, but it’s nowhere in sight.

What does it mean?

Avoir la banane - roughly pronounced ah-vwar la bah-nahn - translates as ‘to have the banana’.

In reality, the expression has little to do with the yellow fruit - it means ‘to be happy’ or ‘to be content’ because the curved shape of a banana resembles a smile.

So if you are told gardez la banane (literally - hold the banana), this actually means ‘keep smiling’.

People have been using this expression for decades to talk about being happy. A common synonym would be être de bonne humeur (to be in a good mood).

The similar-sounding phrase se faire bananer has a less happy meaning - it means to be cheated or swindled.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that a sac banane is the French term for a fanny pack/bum bag.


Use it like this

Tout le monde avait la banane après le déjeuner. - Everyone was in a good mood after lunch.

Une moitié du groupe semble énervée, mais l'autre moitié a la banane. - One half of the group seems annoyed, but the other half is in good spirits.


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