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A Lesson in Limits

In Les endives au jambon - Part 1, Sophie gives Patrice's recipe for endive with ham a rave review. She uses the word limite twice:

 

J'ai limite léché l'assiette, quoi!
I almost licked the plate, you know!
Cap. 64, Sophie et Patrice - Les endives au jambon - Part 1

 

Et limite... limite... limite, tu pourrais mettre un tout petit peu de miel, hein?
And almost... almost... you could almost put in a tiny little bit of honey, right?
Cap. 106-107, Sophie et Patrice - Les endives au jambon - Part 1

 

Une limite is "a limit," but limite can also be an adverb or adjective. As an adverb (which is how Sophie uses it here), limite is a more informal synonym of presque (almost, nearly). So Sophie could also have said:

 

J'ai presque léché l'assiette, quoi!
I almost licked the plate, you know!

 

Tu pourrais presque mettre un tout petit peu de miel, hein?
You could almost put in a tiny little bit of honey, right?

 

In the first example, she could also have used the expression "avoir failli + infinitive" (to almost do something):

 

J'ai failli lécher l'assiette, quoi!
I almost licked the plate, you know!

 

But let's get back to limite. As an adjective, it usually means "maximum," as in la vitesse limite (maximum speed) or le prix limite (maximum price, upper price limit). You'll also see it in phrases like la date limite (deadline) or la date limite de vente (sell-by date).

 

More colloquially, limite can describe a close call, something you just barely succeeded in doing:

 

J'ai réussi mon permis de conduire, mais c'était limite.
I passed my driver's test, but just barely.

 

You might also say j'ai limite raté mon permis de conduire, j'ai presque raté mon permis de conduire, or j'ai failli rater mon permis de conduire (I almost failed my driver's test).

 

Finally, limite is also the word for "edgy" or "borderline," as in something that's risqué or just shy of being offensive:

 

Ton ami est sympa mais ses blagues sont un peu limites.
Your friend is nice but his jokes are borderline offensive

 

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