The French expression “avoir les jetons” translates literally to “to have the chips” and has the following meanings in English:
- to be petrified
- to have the jitters
- to be scared, nervous
- to have the heebie-jeebies
According to expressio.fr, the expression has to to with earning one’s salary and going to the roulette table and experiencing fear when placing a bet and losing everything.
Here’s an example sentence:
- Pour descendre la montagne j’ai dû prendre le télésiège. Normalement je n’ai pas le vertige mais cette fois j’ai eu les jetons! To go down the mountain I had to take the chiarlift. Normally I’m not afraid of heights but this time I was petrified.
Here are some synonymous expressions:
- avoir les chocottes – chocotte as a noun means sissy
- avoir les foies – foie means liver!
Two things to note:
- Donner les jetons à quelqu’un means to scare somebody.
- An unrelated expression faux comme un jeton means to be two-faced or hypocritical.