J’en ai marre: A French expression you may hear today

One day after use of the French health pass began in restaurants and owners are already saying: ‘J’en ai marre.’ What does the expression mean?

10 August 2021

Caption: Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

There is no word-for-word translation for j’en ai marre but, as a whole, the expression means “I’ve had enough”.

This useful phrase can apply in many different situations when circumstances are getting on top of someone but in the news today it is being used by restaurant owners.

New rules introduced yesterday (August 9) mean that restaurant, cafe and bar staff must now check all customers have a valid health pass before allowing them inside.

By 11:00, the owner of one popular restaurant along the Marseille coastline told Le Monde it was already getting too much.

“Honestly, j’en ai marre - I’ve had enough of checking people’s passes,” she said.

Read more: 'Easy', 'Difficult' – Four French restaurants try out Covid health pass

There are multiple theories for where the expression comes from. 

Some linguists have linked the word marre to marrement, a word used in the 11-13th centuries to mean unhappiness. 

Others claim it could also have devolved from marence, which meant suffering in the 14th and 15th centuries, or marrissement, used to mean displeasure in the 16th century.

A fourth theory, put forward by linguist Alain Rey, one of the major original creators of the iconic dictionary Le Robert, suggested that the origins lie in the slang term mar or maré. This word first emerged in the 15th century, meaning a token or chip, then evolved to mean profit or share.

By the 19th century, to have your share – avoir son mar – meant to have what you deserved or needed.

Take this one step further and you have not the right amount, but too much: j’en ai marre – I’ve had enough.

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