Stressful French expression N°11 : Être au taquet

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Être au taquet is a very popular French idiom which has an origin in the sailing world 🛳 ! This is one expression for the stressed ones ! 😫

Être au taquet

Être au taquet

This one is a very common French expression and is commonly used when one is stressed out ! 😂 Now what do you think is the signification of this popular French expression in English: let’s have a look at the picture :

Some rope
Some hands holding it !

Two French words :
 “être” = to be
 “au taquet” = the cleat ?!?

It literally means “to be at the cleat” ?!?

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

Etre au taquet origin

Etre au taquet origin

The origin of this expression is easy to understand.
Note: “un taquet” can also mean a “blow to the face” but this is not the meaning of this French expression here.

The different meaning of “un taquet” are :

  • a piece of wood used to keep a closed door (15th century) 🚪
  • a corner of wood used to wedge a piece of furniture (19th century)
  • in sailing, and since the 17th century, a means of maintaining a rope in a certain position or a sail more or less stretched (horn cleat, cam cleat, tilting cleat …)
  • a metal stop intended to limit the movements of the carriage of a typewriter.

All in all, “un taquet” is used to block something.

We can understand the meaning of this French expression by looking at the maritime example.

In this case, the cleat refers to a metal part used to keep a rope – a “end” – in a certain position.
Since it allows the “end” of the rope to be stretched as far as possible on a ship, the cleat also becomes synonymous with a limit which cannot be crossed.

This is why in the French Navy, “être au taquet” now means “to have reached the limit of one’s possibilities, in terms of retirement annuities, in workload, even… in terms of patience ”.
Likewise, today, a busy person is said to be “être au taquet”: there is absolutely no new job they can take on.

Etre au taquet : Translation in English

être au taquet translation in English
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

In my opinion, a suitable translation in English for this popular French expression could be :

To have reached one’s limit

Etre au taquet

Etre au taquet : French examples

être au taquet French example

J’ai beaucoup de choses à faire mais je gère, je suis au taquet.

I have a lot of things to do and I am doing it all, I have reached my limits.

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

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