Tu as vraiment l’embarras du choix!
tew ah vray-MAH lah-baa-rah dew SHWAH. Click below to hear the audio!
You really have too many choices! So many choices!
In French, it’s an embarrassment of choices. We have a similar expression in English: an embarrassment of riches. What does embarrassment have to do with either choices or riches?
The word arose in the 16th century in France. It originally meant some kind of hindrance, blockage, or barrier, all of which leads to the more recent meanings of perplexity, uncertainty, discomfort. So l’embarras du choix suggests that you have so many choices available to you–so many opportunities–that you are perplexed, and unable to make a decision.
Likewise, if you have des embarras d’argent (day zah-baa-RAH daar-ZHAH, money troubles), you are barred from doing what you want to do because you don’t have enough money. If you are dans l’embarras, you are in some kind of unspecified trouble.
So, while l’embarras du choix is usually a pleasant position to be in, having des embarras d’argent is not. And yet both depend on the word embarras, which calls attention to the hindrances that have placed themselves in your way, whether in decision-making or in realizing a project.