To Wear Out the Seat of One’s Pants or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Finding an idiom starting with the letter U presents a challenge, forcing me to pick an old expression du jour.


User ses Fonds de Culotte/User ses Fonds de Culotte sur les Bancs d’une Ecole

To Wear Out the Seat of One’s Pants / To Wear Out the Seat of One’s pants on a School Bench

To Study for Several Years in the Same School




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I’m pretty sure that young French people don’t use this expression anymore. I haven’t said it much myself and have mostly read it. However, it is an interesting idiom for a couple of reasons.


“Culotte” is an old French word for “Pants.”

“Culottes” are also female underwear in France. French women almost always add “petites” before “culottes.” We all know that anything cute and expensive needs the adjective “Little” or “Petit(e).” Think little black dress…

In any case, you can really wear out the seat of your pants or underwear if you remain seated for a long time.

My husband gives an ironic twist to this expression and thinks that it’s attributed to failing students who repeat a year.

I, on the other side, think that the expression is said about students who’ve been to the same school.


“On avait usé nos fonds de culottes sur les mêmes bancs.”

Literally: “We’d wore out the seat of our pants on the same school benches.”

OrWe’d been at school together.”


I’m asking the French people: What do you think?

Qu’en pensez-vous les français?




See you tomorrow!

A to Z Challenge

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