Life > La France

La France

French expressions that you don't learn in school

LanguedocLiving, Jun 9

Here are some French expressions that you don't learn at school.


À boire ou je tue le chien!
Bring me something to drink or I kill the dog!

Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe
About a remark in a conversation, to be completely irrelevant (literally: "to arrive like a hair in the soup")

Attaquer bille en tête
He didn't beat about the bush (literally: "to attack with a marble in head")

Avoir chaud aux plumes
To escape a danger (literally: "to have one's feathers hot")

Avoir des atomes crochus avec quelqu'un
To have a lot in common with someone (literally: "to have hooked atoms with someone")

Avoir le cul entre deux chaises
To be caught between two stools (literally: "to have one's ass between two chairs")

Avoir les dents du fond qui baignent
To be overfed (literally: "to have one's back teeth swimming")

Avoir les jetons
To be scared (literally: "to have the tokens")

Avoir les chevilles qui enflent
To be very full of oneself (literally: "to have one's ankles swell")

Avoir des casseroles au cul
To be haunted by a scandal (literally: "to have saucepans hung on the ass")

Avec ma bite et mon couteau
To do something with very few tools (literally: "with my dick and my knife")

Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles
To be lucky (literally: "to have the ass full of noodles")

Avoir trois métros de retard
To always be one step behind (literally: "to be three metros late")

Avoir un chat dans la gorge
To have a frog in one's throat (literally: "to have a cat in one's throat")

Avoir un fil à la patte
To be tied down (literally: "to have a thread at the leg")

Avoir un poil dans la main
To be lazy (literally: "to have a hair in the hand")

Avoir une peur bleue
To have a bad scare (literally: "to have a blue fear")


Ça me fait une belle jambe
A fat lot of good that does me! (literally: "It makes me a nice leg")

Ça ne casse pas des briques
It has nothing to write home about (literally: "It doesn't break bricks")

Ça ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard
It has nothing to write home about (literally: "It doesn't break three legs to a duck")

Ça va chier des bulles
There'll be one hell of a row (literally: "It will shit bubbles")

Ça va être pour ma pomme
It's for yours truly (literally: "It will be for my apple")

Ça vaut son pesant de cacahuètes
Ironical: That's priceless (literally: "It is worth its weight in peanuts")

C'est dans la poche
It's in the bag (literally: "It's in the pocket")

C'est le pied
That's great (literally: "It is the foot")

C'est une autre paire de manches
That's another story (literally: "It's another pair of sleeves")

Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide
Once bitten, twice shy (literally: "A warmed cat fears cold water")

Coincer la bulle
To bum around (literally: "to wedge the bubble")

Courir sur le haricot
Get one someone's nerves (literally: "to run on someone's bean")


Découvrir le pot aux roses
To discover a secret (literally: "to discover the roses' pot")
Note: This expression does not spell "découvrir le poteau rose" (i.e., "to discover the pink pole").

Démerden Zie sich
German-like expression for "solve your problem yourself" (literally: "get out of the shit yourself")

Dire tout et son contraire
To say contradictory things (literally: "to say everything and its contrary")

Donner du fil à retordre
To make life difficult to someone (literally: "to give threads to twist")

Donner sa langue au chat
To give up a riddle (literally: "to give one's tongue to the cat")

L'enfance de l'art
Its child play (literally: "the childhood of art")


En voir de toutes les couleurs
To be through the mill (literally: "to see some of all colors")

Enfoncer le clou
To drive the point home (literally: "to drive the nail in")

Essuyer les plâtres
To have all the initial problems to put up with (literally: "to wipe the plasters")

Être de mauvais poil
To be in a bad mood (literally: "to be of bad hair")

Être fagoté comme l'as de pique
To be dressed any old how (literally: "to be dressed like the ace of spades")

Être habillé à la six-quatre-deux
To be dressed any old how (literally: "to be dressed like six-four-two")

Il en a bavé des ronds de chapeau
His eyes nearly popped out of his head (literally: "he dribbled hat circles")

Enfoncer des portes ouvertes
To state the obvious (literally: "To break down open doors")

Être comme une poule qui a trouvé un couteau
To be at a complete loss (literally: "To be like a chicken who has found a knife")

Être un peu long à la détente
To react slowly to something (literally: "To have a slow trigger")


Faire d'une pierre deux coups
To solve two problems with one solution (literally: "To do with one stone two hits")

Faux cul
Hypocrite (literally: "fake ass")

Faux jeton
Hypocrite (literally: "fake token")

Fumer comme un sapeur
To smoke like a chimney (literally: "to smoke like a fireman")


Haut comme trois pommes
About a person: small (literally: "tall as three apples")


Il n'y a pas de quoi fouetter un chat
It is nothing to make a fuss about (literally: "It's no reason for whipping a cat")

Il y a de l'eau dans le gaz
Things aren't running too smoothly (literally: "there is water in the gaz")

Il y une couille dans le potage
There is a problem here (literally: "there is a ball (i.e., testicule) in the soup")


Jeter un froid
To put a damper on things (literally: "to throw a cold)

Je ne vais pas faire long feu ici
I will be leaving soon (literally: "I will not make long fire here")

Je te vois venir avec tes gros sabots
Now we are finally getting to the point (literally: "I see you coming with your big clogs")


La vache!
expression of surprise (literally: "the cow!)

La cinquième roue du carosse
To be like a spare part (literally: "the fifth wheel of the coach)

Laisser pisser le mérinos
Don't react to a provocation (literally: "to let the merino piss")

Laisser tomber quelqu'un comme une vieille chaussette
To jilt somebody (literally: "to drop somebody like an old sock")

Les bras m'en tombent
I am stunned (literally: "my arms are falling")


Ne pas avoir inventé la poudre
To be a little dumb (literally: "not to have invented gunpowder")

Ne pas savoir sur quel pied danser
Not to know what to do (literally: "not to know on which foot to dance")

Ne pas y aller avec le dos de la cuillère
There is no half-measures with him/her (literally: "not to go there with the back of the spoon")

Noyer le poisson
To evade an issue (literally: "to drown the fish")


On n'est pas sorti de l'auberge
We are not out of the woods yet (literally: "We are not out of the inn yet")


Parler à tort et à travers
To blather (literally: "To speak wrongly and crosswise")

Pas piqué des hannetons
Great (literally: "not bitten by cockchafers")

Peigner la girafe
To do something useless (literally: "to comb the giraffe")

Poule mouillée
Coward (literally: "wet chicken")

Prendre entre quatre z'yeux
To have an argument with someone (literally: "To take someone between four eyes")


Quand les poules auront des dents
Never (literally: "when chickens will have teeth")


Ronger son frein
To champ at the bit (literally: "to gnaw one's break")


Sauter du coq à l'âne
To jump from one subject to another (literally: "to jump from the rooster to the donkey")

Se faire chier comme un rat mort
To be extremely bored (literally: "to make oneself shit like a dead rat")

S'en donner à coeur joie
To have a tremendous time (literally: "to give oneself heart joy")

S'entendre comme larrons en foire
To be thick as thieves (literally: "to get along like thieves in a fair")

Sortir de la gueule d'une vache
This is said about a clothing item that looks cumpeled (literally: "to come from a cow's mouth")

Sucer les pissenlits par la racine
Be dead (literally: "to suck the dandelions by the root")

Surveiller comme du lait sur le feu
To keep an eye on (literally: "to keep an eye on like milk on a fire")


Tirer le diable par la queue
To have money problems (literally: "to pull the devil's tail")

Tiré par les cheveux
Far-fetched (literally: "pulled by the hair")

Tirer des plans sur la comète
To build castles in the air (literally: "to draw plans on the comet")

Tomber à plat
About a joke: not to trigger any reaction by the audience (literally: "to fall flat")

Tous les 36 du mois
Never (literally: "each 36th day of the month")


Un peu mon neveu!
Of course! (literally: "a little bit, my nephew!")


Vendre la peau de l'ours avant de l'avoir tué
To count one's chickens before they are hatched (literally: "to sell the bear's skin before killing it")


Similar Stories

La France

A cheesy week

This week’s Sunday Croissant is all about cheese. Why I hear you ask? Well…

LanguedocLiving, Jan 12

La France

Cheese heist: 700 blocks of Saint-Nectaire…

Nearly 700 blocks of fine Saint-Nectaire cheese were stolen by thieves from a producer…

The Local, Jan 12

La France

Will kissing be banned at work?

Morette Mayor Aude Picard-Wolff (pictured) has made waves for refusing to greet…

LanguedocLiving, Jan 6

La France

Which cheek should you offer for a kiss?

Yes, it’s another mine field. As we know, kissing is de rigueur in France,…

LanguedocLiving, Jan 6