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I have heard the following sentence in the TV series Marseille:

  • J'ai des fourmillements dans la main en permanence. Sans parler des moments où elle me lâche carrément.

Context: A musician has recently discovered that she has a muscular degenerative disease in the hand which will soon prevent her from playing. A friend asks her how she is doing and she answers the above sentence.

What does "lâcher" mean here? I cannot find the correct meaning neither in the Larousse dict, nor in the Word Reference dict. "My hand really lets me go/releases me" does not make sense in English.

  • There are much better ways to look up for translations than wordreference. Nonetheless it gives "give way" and "fail" which perfectly suits the purpose in your example. – None Apr 2 at 7:50
  • WordReference is the best online bilingual French-English dictionary and Larousse is the best online monolingual French one I know, that's why I always use both. Regarding the meanings you mentioned, "give way" is used for things in English that break under pressure from strong forces (eg a dam gives way under the pressure of the water) and it is intransitive (not transitive as "lâcher here) , so I could not grasp the figurative meaning meant here. There is no "fail" in the WR entry for "lâcher". – Alan Evangelista Apr 2 at 10:11
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    You can very well say in English that your hand gives way. "I've also had a fall where my hand gave way and I fell ..., "my hand gave way as I was lowering myself into a bath", you'll find lots of examples in very little time. – None Apr 2 at 19:23
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    Wiktionnaire and TLF are better monolingual dictionaries than Larousse. Cambridge or Reverso are much better than wordreference. Wehre complete sentences are concerned DeePl is by far the best although I think it could do better in this case. – None Apr 2 at 19:32
  • IMHO WR is better than Cambridge and Collins, it usually has more example sentences and related expressions and it groups synonyms together. Reverso simply uses Collins. Obviously you have all the right to have a different opinion. DeepL is not a dict, but rather a translator. The best free online one, for sure. – Alan Evangelista Apr 2 at 19:47
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In familiar French, lâcher quelqu'un can mean "to let down", and, as some sort of metaphor, with objects, "to stop working (for someone's use)". In your example, it means, "I can't use my hand at all, my hand won't move".

Some similar uses:

Un voisin m'avait promis de m'aider, mais entretemps il m'a lâché (= he let me down).

Ma voiture m'a lâchée (= my car broke down, esp. just when I needed it)

Tu veux bien me lâcher ? (= leave me alone, stop harassing me)

It can also be used in a negative turn, and then it means "to harass, to chase someone"

Je ne vais pas te lâcher jusqu'à ce que tu aies fini tes devoirs (= I will be on your back until you have done your homework).

2 familiar phrases:

Lâche-moi les baskets (=leave me alone)

Je vais pas lâcher l'affaire (=I won't give up on this, I won't quit)

Note that un lâcheur is some sort of quitter, someone who lets their friends down. It can be used to gently nag someone.

Alors, tu viens pas avec nous, espèce de lâcheur ?

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