France

French Expression of the Day: avoir la flemme

Why do I need to know avoir la flemme?

Although this might sound like something you would say if you have the beginnings of a nasty cold, this phrase actually means you are unlikely to leave the house for a different reason: laziness.

What does avoir la flemme mean?

La flemme is derived from the latin word phlegma meaning phlegm or humour, and in French this word has taken on a meaning closer to the latter definition.

If you avoir la flemme (de faire quelque chose) it means you are in no humour to do anything because you cant be bothered.

La flemme itself translates as laziness.

You might say, for example, Je ne veux pas faire le ménage. Jai la flemme. (I dont want to clean the house. I cant be bothered.)

It could also translate as the milder I dont feel like it, as long as a strong sense of apathy is still taken into account.

So if you say, Jai la flemme de travailler aujourdhui (I dont feel like working today) its clear that rather than doing something exciting, you probably just want to spend the day sleeping or watching TV on the sofa instead.

And if you meet someone who has been overtaken by this kind of indifference to activity?

You might say quelle flemme! (how lazy!) to try and snap them out of it, or simply accept that they feeling paresseux/paresseuse (lazy) and leave them to it.

Alternatives

Avoir la flemme is an informal expression and a slightly more polite, although still fairly blunt, way to say you dont feel like doing something would be: Je nai pas envie as in je nai pas envie de travailler aujourdhui. (I dont feel like working today.)

How can I use avoir la flemme?

J'ai la flemme d'y aller.

I cant be bothered to go.

Je ne suis pas sorti de chez moi hier, j'ai eu la flemme.

I didnt go out last night. I couldnt be bothered.

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