A story in the Journal de Montréal tells of a restaurant owner who posted a complaint on Facebook. Her complaint was about a customer who’d brought lactose-free milk into the restaurant for her child to drink.
The owner argued that the customer should’ve ordered the milk in her restaurant instead of bringing it in from outside.
Long story short, her complaint on Facebook went viral because the Internet sided with the customer, not the restaurant owner. A marketing specialist commented on how the restaurant’s reputation will be affected:
À court terme, ça va fesser fort. […] C’est une petite entreprise, c’est sûr que ça va faire mal.
In short term, it’s going to hurt (lit., “to hit hard”). It’s a small business, it’s going to hurt for sure.
[«Un contenant de lait crée un tollé contre une restauratrice», Journal de Montréal, 21 août 2015]
Literally, fesser means to hit. It can be used in both its literal sense, or in a figurative sense meaning to hurt (one’s reputation, one’s ego, etc.).
This isn’t the first time we’re seeing fesser on OffQc.
In #285, we saw how a character called Stéphanie from the TV show La Galère was proud that her son had punched a sexual predator and eventually managed to get him arrested. As she takes care of her son’s hand, she asks him:
T’as fessé fort?
Do you hit [him] hard?
- t’as, informal contraction of tu as
In #415, we saw how a character called Olivier from the TV show Les Parent got into a fight with another boy. When Olivier explains to his parents why he got into the fight, he says he was protecting his little brother Zak and his friend:
Y’était en train d’écoeurer Zak pis son ami.
Y’allait fesser sur Zak!
He was picking on Zak and his friend.
He was gonna hit Zak!
- y’était, informal pronunciation of il était
- y’allait, informal pronunciation of il allait
- pis (sounds like pi), informal pronunciation of puis; means and here
In those last two examples, fesser is used literally. But in #547, we saw a figurative use: a radio show host wishes a happy 40th birthday to a listener and admits that turning 40 is hard to take:
40 ans, ça fesse.
[Turning] 40 hurts.
The Usito dictionary also gives a couple examples:
Fesser sur un clou avec un marteau.
To strike a nail with a hammer.
«J’ai remarqué que, quand Alexandre est fâché, il est violent; il donne des coups de poing, il fesse partout»
“I’ve noticed that, when Alexander is angry, he gets violent; he goes around punching, hitting everything.”
[Michel Gosselin, Le repos piégé, 1988]
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