Prends means to take.

Garde means to keep

So how can Prends + Garde become Be careful or Beware?

Is it something like "Take and keep" that means that the person need to take all information and keep it for it self?


Garde has not the to keep meaning but the to guard one, so it's more like be on (your) guard (literally "take guard", i.e. take care, pay attention).


  • Prends garde à toi (take care of you)

Beware that prendre garde often keeps the same meaning regardless of whether it is used negatively or positively.

See Prendre garde : expression à plusieurs variantes


Garde has several meanings https://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/garde/36093

What interests us is the last definition :

  • En boxe, en escrime et dans les sports de combat, attitude que l'on prend pour engager le combat et se protéger.

Which means Combat Position.

You can understand Prends garde has Take a position that allow you to defend yourself.

  • 2
    While definitely related, the expression you describes is closer to en garde (starts a fight) than prends garde (pay attention, take care, there could be a danger).
    – jlliagre
    Mar 23 at 1:52

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