I Have the Hen’s Bumps or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z


I love to read and listen to people even more than I like to write.

Sentences stop me in my tracks when they flow, roll and dance in my head.

Metaphors and similes take my breath away when they perfectly echo feelings and emotions.

And I’m a sucker for popular idiomatic expressions, so distinct from one culture to another.

When I moved from France to the USA, I knew enough English grammar and some vocabulary to get by, but I was far from being fluent.

Everyone was so patient when I tried to understand and be understood.

Some people complimented me on my English. No kidding.

And often I made many smile when I translated word for word the French idioms that I tried to apply to the conversation.

My first one: I announced to my daughter’s preschool teacher that I had the hen’s bumps because it was cold that day.

“And I have the goosebumps,” she said with a smile.

So, in memory of my early challenging (and often funny) moments in the States, I will post every day for the whole month of April a French idiom from A to Z, first with its literal translation and then its correct American equivalent.

My hope is to make you smile and maybe to teach you a little bit of French too.

Of course, as always, I’d love for you, Americans and French, to comment with your favorite idioms during the month of April.


French Memories





  1. Hen’s bump (chuckle) I’m sure there was a time when that was an idiom used before they gave the goose the credit 😀

  2. I can’t wait to read these 🙂

    • Glad you are looking forward to, Dan. In fact, when I considered blogging years ago, I initially thought of this kind of blog, teaching some French vocabulary and idioms to Americans. But I started to write fiction. However, this A to Z challenge seemed like a perfect opportunity to give a try to this idea of the past.

  3. Evelyne – I’m delighted to hear your theme and am positive my smile will last for a whole month. I have hen bumps of anticipation 😋

  4. That series is going to be huge fun. Great idea, Evelyne. Hugs.

    • Thanks, Teagan. I am now completing the list and have some serious brainstorming to do with a few hard letters. I might cheat and ask some help to a few of my French readers or friends! See you soon.

  5. This will be a great read Evelyne – loved the hen bumps story.

    • I will have many more to share! This is what I love most when we discover new languages and cultures. Each one comes with its own set of expressions and they rarely translate in the exact same way. See you, Mary.

  6. Excellente idée ! 🙂

    • Oh je suis contente de te voir ici car je crois que ton aide me sera utile. Je cale sur les lettres U, W et X. Tu as presqu’un mois pour me sauver, mais je n’ai encore rien trouvé.

  7. I used to try to translate English idioms into Hebrew and they were hilarious. Slang never translates, but it can be very funny 🙂 I kind of LIKE hen’s bumps.

    • This must be very funny too! You’re right about slang too. There are actually many French idiomatic expressions with Hens. Go figure! See you, Marilyn.

  8. What a wonderful idea for a theme – I will definitely be coming back to learn all about French idioms :). Hen’s bump … love it. Wonder why English speakers went for goose and French speakers went for hen?
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  9. excellente idée… it’s gonna be fun… 🙂
    * * *
    @the hen’s bumps… eh oui, la chair de poule turns into chair d’oie(goose flesh)! 🙂
    * * *
    je pense à “poser un lapin”… = to set or to lay down a rabbit or “to stand someone up”?!… 😀

    • Merci, Mélanie. Poser un lapin est une super expression, tu as raison. Pour la lettre P je pensais à : Etre dans les petits papiers de quelqu’un.
      Ce que je pense faire c’est ouvrir la parole pour que chacun ajoute son expression basée sur la lettre du jour.
      A plus tard alors.

  10. That made me smile while I was eating my breakfast this morning. Look forward to reading your A-Z posts. I’m also thinking about joining in as you gave me an idea for a theme. Thanks!

  11. Great idea for a post, Evelyne! Can Greek Australians join in?

  12. That sounds great! Your A-Z is now my favorite! Really looking forward to that!

  13. Haha…love it! When I grew up, we always said ‘goose pimples’ and that seemed to amuse Americans when I said it, not realising they said ‘goose bumps’. But I like ‘hen’s bumps’ much better 😀 Looking forward to your series Evelyne, it will be great fun 😉

    • Thank you, Sherri. As I am revising my personal narrative manuscript, I am reliving old moments of my early days. At the same time a blogger friend told me about the A to Z challenge and I thought that it could go well with my current work. I didn’t know that idioms could be also different between the UK and the States. I hope you’ll have time to add your own whenever possible. 😊

  14. Behind the Story says:

    I’m looking forward to your A to Z idioms in April. If I didn’t see “hen’s bumps” in context, I’d have no idea what you were talking about. I’m so used to “goose bumps” that I’ve forgotten that it has a “goose” in it.

    • I think you’ll like to read some of them, Nicki. I am researching the most distinct but also the most used in French and their equivalent in American English. Fun to do! See you soon. 😊

  15. I was dying to find out what hen’s bumps were when I saw the title of the post! Looking forward to reading more Evelyne 🙂

  16. J’entende avec impatience a lire votre blog!!! Merci d’être venu chez le mien et d’avoir eu laisser un message! Désolée, je n’écris pas très bien en Français, mais j’ai voulu fait l’effort pour vous! lisabuiecollard.com

  17. Chouette ! J’ai hâte de lire ces expressions! I love words and idioms and I am dying to read your A to Z as well as the rest of your blog! I’m so glad that you stopped by my site so that I am able to discover yours 🙂

  18. I like that, ‘the hen’s bumps’. That made me laugh.

    • It’s a funny one, I agree. There are many more. Like the cat in the throat instead of the frog or the hens that have teeth and not the pigs that fly. The list is long…
      Glad I made you laugh!


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