Malheureusement, je ne suis pas disponible.
maa-luh-ruhz-MAH zhuhn swee pah dee-spo-NEE-bluh. Click below to hear this pronounced.
Unfortunately, I’m not available.
In its original meaning, from the Latin, disponible and its relatives had to do with arranging, since its root is the verb meaning to put. So when you say that you are disponible, you are saying, more or less, that someone else may arrange your schedule! In other words, I may commandeer a little piece of your schedule and plan an event.
If you are pas disponible, you are saying, “Hands off my schedule! You can’t push me around like a pawn!” Or at least, that’s what it used to mean.
Nowadays, it just means available. People are not the only ones who can be disponible or not. So can that blue shirt in the catalog that you wanted to order (out of your size), or the or the helium tank to blow up the balloons on the day of your nephew’s birthday party (someone else rented it), or the tickets to the new show in town (already sold out).
Next time you are asked to make an appointment that you are unable or disinclined to accept, try saying Malheureusement, je ne suis pas disponible !