Feeling great? Could it be because you’ve just encountered the French expression avoir la frite ? Find out what it means, how to use it, and learn about related expressions!
To have the French fry.
To feel great and have lots of energy.
Être en très bonne forme et avoir beaucoup d’énergie.
The Story Behind It
J’ai la frite ! I have the French fry, folks!
But what on earth does that mean? To understand the French expression avoir la frite, we have to go back to the early 1900s, when its predecessor was coined. According to the pros at Expressio.fr, this is when la patate (the informal term for la pomme de terre or potato) became a slang term for another similarly round object: the head… and consequently, the mind. So someone in a good frame of mind with lots of energy was said to “have the potato” or avoir la patate. (By extension, this can also refer to a business, event, or idea that’s doing really well.)
Then in the second half of the 20th century, as we began consuming more of the fried potato slivers that we call “French fries,” avoir la frite gained ground as a variation.
I’ll save the anglophone “chip vs. fry” debate for another day. However, if you’re part of Team Chip and familiar with the expression “to feel chipper” (to feel cheerful and lively), this similarity might help you remember this French expression!
Grammar and Usage
Firstly, note that avoir la frite is a colloquial and informal expression. French-speakers find it endearingly playful and use it often, however, make no mistake: it’s not for formal situations.
Secondly, note that it’s la frite (the French fry), not une frite (a French fry). So if you want to phrase avoir la frite in the negative, to mean someone is not feeling great, make sure to retain the definite article, la. It doesn’t change to de as it does when negating indefinite articles (un/une/des). Basically, it should translate as “to not have the fry,” as opposed to “to not have any fries.”
|Ils avaient la frite, tandis que moi, j'étais crevé.||They were full of energy, whereas I was exhausted.|
|À 90 ans, Louis a toujours la frite !||At 90 years old, Louis is still in great form!|
|À cause des patates, le diabète a la frite. *||Because of potatoes, diabetes is on the rise.|
|* This was the title of a 2016 news article in the French daily, Ouest-France.|
Finally, here’s a real example of the expression in its negative form. In late April 2020, news broke that the French potato industry was struggling because the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns had diminished demand for the fries sold in fast-food restaurants. Seizing the opportunity to use this spud-related expression, the French newspaper Le Monde published the article, “La Pomme de terre n’a plus la frite.” * In other words, the potato (industry) was no longer doing well.
* NOTE: As of this publishing, a subscription to Le Monde is required to read the whole article, however, you can view most of it without one.
- To feel really good / awesome / fantastic… l.
- To be in great form.
- To be full of beans. * This only applies in British English because the American understanding of it is “to be full of nonsense.”
- Être en pleine forme.
- Se sentir plein d’énergie
- Avoir la pêche.
- Péter la forme / le feu.
- Avoir du tonus. * tonus = énergie
- Avoir la patate. l.
- Avoir une sacrée patate.
• • •
Looking for MORE French expressions like Avoir la frite?
Got you covered right here! Boost your French the fun way and impress your francophone friends by picking up French expressions!
© 2020 French à la folie.