Careful French expression N°15: Faire gaffe

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This is one French expression which is very important to know : Faire gaffe. Especially if someone says to you ‘Fais gaffe’, you need to open wide your eyes 👁

Faire gaffe

Faire gaffe Meaning

Faire Gaffe meaning
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

This is one French expression which certainly comes in handy in every day life as we face life many hazards 🤞

Now what do you think is the signification of this popular French expression in English: let’s have a look at the picture :

a banana 🍌
Somebody walking towards it ! What do you think happens next ?

Two French words :
 “faire” = to do
“gaffe” = a mistake

It literally means “to do a mistake” ?!?

And incredibly, if you are walking in the street towards a banana skin, some helpful people might tell you : “Fais gaffe”

To understand this popular French idiom, let’s have a look at its origin

Faire gaffe Origin

The actual “gaffe” comes from the nautical world. It does exactly what it shows on the picture above. The gaffe is a thus long pole with a hook, which allows sailors to catch a mooring buoy, hold on to another boat or push back an obstacle. 😜

But this is not today’s meaning, to understand today’s meaning of ‘faire gaffe’, we need to look at my favourite cartoon character !

Faire gaffe Illustration with a cartoon character

Gaston Lagaffe
Gaston Lagaffe

Yes Gaston Lagaffe, as it names indicates is a ‘gaffer’. He is probably the Belgian equivalent of Mr Bean. He does nothing else but blunders all day long !

Yes the first meaning of “faire gaffe” is to make a mistake !

Maybe these people handling the “gaffe” were not that agile after all, maybe this is where this French expression comes from ! 🤣

Faire gaffe Translation in English

I think that a suitable translation for this quite extraordinary French expression would be :

Pay attention, watch out

Faire gaffe

Note that there is a distinction between :
“faire gaffe” = to pay attention
faire une gaffe” = to do a blunder

Faire gaffe French examples

Faire gaffe
Le chat fait gaffe

Here you can find a few examples to illustrate this fine French idiom :

Il y a une banane à terre, fais gaffe !

There is a banana skin on the floor, be careful !

Or this way, as an infinitive verb :

N’oublie pas de faire gaffe à ne pas oublier d’apporter les cadeaux pour les invités

Don’t forget to remind yourself to bring presents for the guests

Voilà, this was today’s French idiom in English, I hope you liked it. Click here to find out about the challenge of 50 French idioms in English.

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Please feel free to comment this article, your opinion matters. Click on the green logo on your left to access the comment box straight away !

And I’ll see you next time for more French idioms in English ! 👍🧡

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Emilie Marie
3 years ago

Haha! I love this Lara! Great way to explain a concept that can be confusing when translated literally!

3 years ago

very funny article ! I never did the raw translation and I do get now why it can be misleading 🙂

3 years ago

intéressant! and used very often in oral conversation so that’s a good one to know! 😉

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