French Expression of the Day: Avoir la latche

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

This French expression probably won't come up in your English-French dictionary.


Why do I need to know avoir la latche?

Because you might want to show off your fluency not only in French, but also in the French spoken in Lyon.

What does it mean?

Avoir la latche - roughly pronounced ah-vwar la latch - is a colloquial expression from France’s third largest city, Lyon.

It does not have anything to do with the metal device used to keep gates closed - instead it means ‘to be ashamed’ or ‘to be embarrassed’.

In other parts of France, you would simply say avoir la honte, but if you are visiting Lyon or you live there, then you can test out this local slang instead.


The word latche does not mean anything in formal French - it comes from the Romani term latchav which means ‘shame’.

This is not the only Lyon-based slang term that finds its origins in the Romani language. There is also the word pélo which is the Lyon equivalent to mec, which means bloke or dude.

Use it like this

Le coiffeur a massacré mes cheveux, j'ai trop la latche. - The hairdresser wrecked my hair, I am so ashamed.

Il a la latche parce que sa mère l'accompagne encore à l'école. - He’s embarrassed because his mom still walks him to school.


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