For members


French phrase of the Day: Se faire des films

These films won’t be shown in the cinema, but they can still keep you up at night. 

French phrase of the Day: Se faire des films
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know se faire des films?

Because we all do it, and sometimes we need an outside push to get some perspective. 

What does it mean?

Se faire des films literally translates to ‘making yourself movies’, but it has more to do with psychology than videography.

This handy, though maybe slightly harsh, French metaphor means that someone is deluding themselves or imagining the worst. Someone who se fait des films envisages improbable and often paranoia-inducing scenarios – much like those seen in movies – without any real or meaningful evidence. 

The phrase can apply to anything from romantic drama to medical mysteries: interpreting a blunt text message as a sign of imminent divorce, or deciding a light headache must signify a brain tumour. 

Se faire des films is something we all do, though it’s usually to our own detriment.  

It’s a useful phrase to know if you’re trying to counsel a friend out of irrational over-thinking, or vice versa. Sometimes, we really need someone else to point out our own self-delusions.

Use it like this

Ça ne sert à rien de se faire des films – There’s no point assuming the worst

Il se fait des films dans sa tête, il a besoin de savoir ce qui s’est vraiment passé – He’s imagining the worst, he needs to know what really happened. 

En amour, pourquoi on a tendance à se faire des films ? – Why do we so often delude ourselves when it comes to love? 


Se faire des idées – imagining things

Se mettre le doigt dans l’œil – deluding yourself (literally translated as ‘putting a finger in your eye)

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

This might look like a mix of Spanish and French, but it is definitely not Franish.

French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

Why do I need to know mettre le holà?

Because you might need to do this if your friends go from laughing with you to laughing at you. 

What does it mean?

Mettre le holà – pronounced meh-truh luh oh-la – literally means to put the ‘holà’ on something. You might be thinking this must be some clever mix of Spanish and French, but ‘holà’ actually has nothing to do with the Spanish greeting. 

This expression is a way to say that’s enough – or to ‘put the brakes on something.’

If a situation appears to be agitated, and you feel the need to intervene in order to help calm things down, then this might be the expression you would use. Another way of saying it in English might be to ‘put the kibosh on it.’

While the origins of ‘kibosh’ appear to be unknown, ‘holà’ goes back to the 14th century in France. Back then, people would shout “Ho! Qui va là?” (Oh, who goes there?) as an interjection to call someone out or challenge them. 

Over time this transformed into the simple holà, which you might hear on the streets, particularly if you engage in some risky jaywalking. 

A French synonym for this expression is ‘freiner’ – which literally means ‘to break’ or ‘put the brakes on,’ and can be used figuratively as well as literally. 

Use it like this

Tu aurais dû mettre le holà tout de suite. Cette conversation a duré bien trop longtemps, et il était si offensif. – You should have put a stop to that immediately. That conversation went on for too long, and he was so offensive. 

J’ai essayé de mettre le holà à la blague sur ma mère, mais ils étaient sans pitié. – I tried to put a stop to the joke about my mother, but they were merciless.