Oh là là !

Oh là là !
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Classic French Expression

Meaning wow, oh my, oh no
Literally oh there there
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Pronunciation French sound files [oh lah lah]
IPA   [o la la]

Usage notes: English speakers probably say it more than anyone, but oh là là is still a classic French phrase / exclamation used to express a fairly strong reaction, whether good or bad: excitement, surprise, disappointment, etc.

Par exemple…

Oh là là ! C’est une grande nouvelle !   Wow, that’s great news!
Oh là là ! Quelle catastrophe !   Oh no, what a disaster!


It’s not uncommon for additional pairs of to be tacked on, for emphasis. They tend to be spoken very quickly – the most I’ve ever heard was eight ‘s in rapid-fire French:

Oh là là là là là là là là !

But the best by far was when I heard someone say four times, and then – apparently overcome with additional feeling – felt compelled to add two more:

Oh là là là là ! (pause) là là !

Rare: ouh là là, hou là là

 In French, oh là là does not have any sort of sexy or risqué connotation, unlike the English version "ooh la la." See more garbled French expressions.

 Somewhat synonymous

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Oh là la

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1 Response

  1. Andy 1 April 2016 / 13:38

    Ill at the time with a condition that caused bone-crushing fatigue, I found watching the 2006 FIFA World Cup a real Godsend. I could get it in French thanks to the TV5 satellite channel. Not being a soccer aficionado, counting the announcers’ “là’s” helped me enjoy the matches more. I’m pretty sure the record I heard was no less than fourteen — maybe after Zinedine Zidane head-butted his Italian opponent and got ejected in the last couple of minutes of the final.

    In long strings like that, every sixth “là” or so gets heavily stressed.

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