As soon as I embarked the A to Z Challenge, I knew that I would write about French idioms and their equivalents in American English. I also knew that I would have some trouble with a few letters. With a little bit of help (merci to my husband and to my Wonderful virtual French friend Lectrice en Campagne), I managed to find an expression for every letter of the alphabet.
Including W, even though W is not the first letter of the idiom-du-jour.
Mettre les Wagons Avant la Locomotive
Put the Wagons Before the Locomotive
I didn’t find a matching idiom in English. But I personally favor another idiom, which was widely used in my native Normandy and has in addition a perfectly good match in English. It is not surprising to me that the French ‘Boeufs’ became a ‘Horse’ in the US.
Mettre la Charrue Avant les Boeufs
To Put the Cart Before the Oxen
To Put the Cart Before the Horse
Whatever idiom you prefer, both have the exact same meaning: Doing things the wrong way, confusing cause and effect.
It is also common to use these idioms in the negative form as a warning, such as: “Il ne faut pas mettre les wagons avant la locomotive,” Or: “Il ne faut pas mettre la charrue avant les boeufs.”
See you tomorrow!