au garrot

The phrase 'au garrot' comes up in measurements of length or height. What does it mean in this context?

September 12, 2012


From Québec:


I had no clue what "au garrot" meant (never heard of this term in my life), so I check for a definition. I found that "garrot" is the part of a quadrupede (for exemple : horse) and the distance between this part and the ground is used as a measurement for this animal.


Like I said, I've never heard of that before, so I think it's weird that Duolingo has it in his vocabulary. What was the english translation?

I can't remember whether this came up in a Translation, but "au garrot" is how you size a horse. It means the height of the horse, when measured from the front hoof "to the withers". The withers (garrot) is the part of the horse's body where the dorsal vertebrae are at their highest point, over the shoulders. In English, you would measure the horse's height in "hands" (units of 4 inches), or in French "mains".

"Au garrot" is a phrase inherited from the pre-automobile history. Unlike in Quebec,you can still hear it here and there, among people who have a rather extensive French culture. In everyday conversations, if you hear someone say "Il faisait au moins 2 mètres au garrot", it will be the description of a man (not a horse) who was very tall/impressive. The other way round "Il faisait moins d'un mètre au garrot" will ironically describe someone very short. And this is another one for you guys : "il fait 45 kilos tout mouillé" (he is 45 kilos all wet) means you describe (ironically) someone very thin/unimpressive.

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