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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: Bails

You need to know this word for more than just renting an apartment in France.

French Word of the Day: Bails
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know bails?

Because you might want to keep up with the young people, and it would be good to know how to answer if someone asks you “c’est quoi les bails?”

What does it mean?

Bails – usually pronounced “buy” – translates literally to “lease for a rental property” in French, but in its colloquial usage it is more so used to describe a possible plan or opportunity. 

It can also be another way to ask someone ‘what’s up’ or ‘whats going on?’ So, if you’re tired of saying “quoi de neuf?” you can instead say “c’est quoi les bails?” Though this translates directly to “what are the plans” it is a way of asking someone what’s new.

This word is particularly popular among the younger generation. You might even hear it in a rap song or two. The slang term is somewhat derived from its original meaning – a lease is seen as a ‘closed deal,’ whereas the slang version of ‘bails’ is a project, open plan, or potential opportunity. People might even use this word interchangeably with the popular ‘truc,’ meaning “thing.”

Use it like this

Tu m’avais parlé d’un bail de cours de poterie pas cher à Paris, n’est-ce pas? – Didn’t you talk to me about an opportunity to take a cheap pottery class in Paris?

Je n’ai pas fait grand-chose ces jours-là, je profite surtout des vacances. Et toi, c’est quoi les bails? – I haven’t been up to much these days, mostly enjoying my vacation. And you, what’s new?

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

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.

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