Il est dans le débarras.
ee lay dahl day-bah-RAH. Click below to hear this.*
It’s in the…
…attic, crawl space, junk closet, closet under the stairs, whatever you like calling it. Whether you’re looking for the artificial Christmas tree, your high school yearbook, that box of the kids’ artwork, the deflated soccer ball, the fake Civil War sabre, that’s where it is.
Un embarras is a burden, an obstacle that bars your way. It can be anything from a stomach ache to money problems to a traffic jam to a twisted family history. The word originates from various words having to do with barring.
So un débarras, not surprisingly, is a place where you get rid of things, just short of holding a garage sale. And note that il in this sentence refers to it, not he. This is not where we stash unruly two-year-olds, much as we might sometimes wish to.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: