Presently Shortly or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

The French idiom-du-jour illustrates how languages represent so much of a culture and how challenging translation can be.

* Irony is frequent in the French language and the French excell in this domain (I notice when I go back)

* There is not always an American expression that will carry the French ironic connotation






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This idiom is built on a pleonasm since “Sous Peu” is almost a repetition of “Incessamment.” Both mean “In a short while.”

The addition of “Sous Peu” to “Incessamment” strengthens the idea of time without any specification in terms of duration.

In fact under some circumstances if one says, “I will come back “Incessamment Sous Peu,”” this can imply that one won’t come back at all.

Do you think of an American expresssion that can match this French expression?


P.S. I owe my husband the idea of the iWatch. Idiom and photo starting both with the letter I. Clever. Merci.


See you tomorrow!

A to Z Challenge


  1. Perhaps “i’ll get back to you on that” is the English equivalent of I won’t be back at all.

    • That would be a good one, Sammy. I tend to think that when people say. “Let me think about it,” they don’t always mean to do so! But in the French idiom there is this repetition of two synonyms, which makes it quite special. Thank you, Sammy.

  2. “Give me a minute” “I’ll get right on that” or even “sure, I’ll be right there” can all mean “nope, not happening” if said with the right twist. It’s good to know that the French can be sarcastic (if that’s a correct interpretation of that last bit).

    I like that you’re crowdsourcing the building the American English equivalents of these as you go

    • Your last one with “sure” can certainly be understood as “probably not,” depending of course of the context. Yes, you can say that the French are pretty good at being ironic and sarcastic. In an interesting way it’s not necessary mean. It’s a way of life to talk with double entendre in France (not necessary with a risqué connotation as Americans eventually do). I admit that it is natural for anyone born in France to use some form of humor through conversations, but it can be tricky to decode for a non native speaker. As always I appreciate your comment, Dan.

  3. I just have to say I am really enjoying each of your posts during the AZ Challenge. To me, it is linguistic cultural heaven 😀

    • Oh this is really nice of you, Vagrant. In an interesting way because I’m a busy person I had prepared my list of idiomatic expressions in advance. However, based on the comments, I have changed some, which are less easy to understand for a non native speaker but also more rarely taught during French classes. So the challenge has evolved for me, too, thanks to people like you who stopped by and encourage me.

  4. “just a minute” or “in a second”
    love the i-watch for i day

    • Both would be good equivalents, Claire, although I was hoping for one with the same interesting repetition that we have in French. The iWatch is my husband’s idea and I must say that it fits the post perfectly. See you soon, Claire.

  5. We sort of imply it with “whatever” or “whenever,” but I don’t think we have an exact match. This has gotten me to thinking about some useful Hebrew expressions for which I wish we had some English equivalent. This is a fascinating series. Really enjoying it.

    • Thank you, Marilyn. I agree with you that some expressions can be more visual and easier to understand in one language than another. I don’t know Hebrew at all but love the sound of it. Based on the Jewish cultural richness, I’m not surprised that there are some terrific expressions that cannot be matched in English.

  6. I think “I’ll be there when I get there” is probably a pretty accurate American equivalent. I look forward to your posts every day–I’m going to be sorry when April is over!

    • You are really too nice! I agree with your choice of expression. Depending on the way we say it, it can also be a little ironic.
      I’m having fun with this series, but I never blog on a daily basis, so I am looking forward to a short break at the end of the month! Although I will definitely create a special category on my blog for this challenge and hopefully find a good way to add my voice reading the French expressions. Would you like that?

  7. In fact, I feel terrible because there is no iWatch… just an Apple Watch!
    Can I still get one even if I had not such a good Idea (I) ?

    • We’ll see! I’ve already decided against since I have never been in good terms with watches. Never wore one since middle school. The photo is still a good idea since the watch, Apple or not, will arrive incessamment sous peu. 😊

  8. That’s a tough one! I love how the French play with words so often. It’s very subtle, and something I did notice when I was over there.

    • Hard, isn’t it? My children don’t really get that, although I almost always speak French with them. I love reading your comments since your knowledge of France and French allows you to get the edge. Merci.

      • Merci à vous aussi! Maybe I owe my appreciation to my Mom, who taught me to love all forms of punnery from a young age. I adore “les jeux de mots” in English, maybe it’s why I have come to appreciate the French so much; they seem to have a particular talent for that. 🙂

  9. Alex Hurst says:

    I agree with Melinda, though usually that suggests impatience over a pun. We have many sarcastic ones (when pigs fly, when hell freezes over), but maybe for what you’re going for, I really think there’s no equivalent! 🙂

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    A-Z Blogging in April Participant

    • When pigs fly is Quand les poules auront des dents or When hens have teeth and you’re right both mean Never. Incessamment sous peu can really mean In a short while, but sometimes, depending on circumstances, never. In any case, thank you for stopping by. I will too since I have enjoyed your posts as well. Japan is also a fascinating country.

  10. @INCESSAMMENT SOUS PEU… je l’aime bien et je l’emploie assez souvent… 🙂

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