Les Intraduisibles : ras-le-bol

Ras-le-bol is perhaps one of the more strange and difficult to describe terms that has featured on our ‘intraduisible’ list! The term literally translates to “bowl full of it” in English and yet, this phrase is anything but food-related.

Ras-le-bol is generally used to emphasise frustration or annoyance. When you are so fed up with something or someone, you are said to ‘en avoir ras-le-bol (de [qch])’. For example, “J’en ai ras-le-bol!” can be translated to something along the lines of “I’m fed up!” or “I’m sick and tired of it!” in English. This explains the ‘full bowl’ image because you just can’t take anymore without spilling over!

Sometimes, the term can be used to describe a feeling of despair and despondancy. As such, there has been an increased use of the phrase in the French press in recent years to describe the level of discontent in the country right now.

“Après l’augmentation des impôts, du prix de l’essence et du gaz, il y a une sorte de ras-le-bol général.”

“Following the increases in taxes and the prices of petrol and gas, there is a kind of general despondency.”

Click HERE for more of our favourite “untranslatable” expressions!