Zero Plus Zero Equals the Head of Toto or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Today marks the end of the series a Month of French Idioms From A to Z.

Through familiar French expressions and their equivalents in American English, I’ve shared for twenty-six days my affection for my two favorite countries on earth.

Languages and cultures may vary from one place to another, but the need for human beings to use metaphors and visuals to express ideas is the same.

The last French idiom du jour illustrates, in my opinion, how language and culture make one and how making them yours can take some time.







La Tête à Toto or The Head of Toto is a school game that was very much part of my French childhood.

It starts with this equation :


This how it works: You write the equation as a drawing and as you draw you recite.






photo(59)LA TÊTE À TOTO


Since Toto’s head equals zero, his intelligence is also zero.

Toto was a popular character in my elementary school culture. There were also many Toto’s jokes.

The equivalent of the French Toto’s jokes would be for me the American “Knock Knock” jokes.


I didn’t find an American equivalent to this unique French idiom/game.

Wherever you live or are from, did you play a similar childish game that was part of your culture?

Since I brought up my children in the USA, I’d love to know if today French kids still play 0+0= la Tête à Toto and if the Toto’s jokes are still around.

Les Français? Est-ce que les enfants jouent toujours à la tête à Toto?


Although daily blogging is not my cup of tea (See? I have a hard to time to stop the flow of idioms!), I am very grateful for your company and have been looking forward to your visits and comments.

I especially thank the bloggers and readers who have stuck with me for the whole month of April.

Your support, your fun and also relevant comments have made this challenge much more interesting.

Bravo to each blogger who made it to the final line of the 2015 race through the alphabet.


See you soon for a Recorded Version of this Series of French idioms!


  1. oui les gamins aujourd’hui font encore ce genre de réflexion (les plus petits en tout cas car cette expression est rigolote encore à leur age 🙂 ) comme quoi certaines expressions perdurent 🙂 et les blagues de toto continuent encore de faire leur effet 🙂

    • Oh merci de me tenir au courant! J’espérais avoir un feed-back de la part d’un français vivant en France. C’est drôle de réaliser que certaines blagues et jeux enfantins résistent au passage du temps et aux changements des modes de communication. Merci pour toutes vos visites et à bientôt.

  2. Congratulations!!! An enjoyable month of French idioms. Thank you 😀🍷🍷

  3. Arlee Bird says:

    What a wonderful theme you had for April. I just discovered your site through Forty, c’est Fantastique ! On my blog tomorrow I’m doing a tribute to the bloggers who used France in their A to Z themes and now I’ve added your link to my tribute. Hope you’ll check out my site on Friday May 1st. The link to my blog is in the signature below.

    Thanks for participating and finishing A to Z!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Join us on May 4 with your post of Reflections about this year’s A to Z.
    Tossing It Out

    • Thank you, merci, Arlee. I appreciate the kind words and support and hope to see you again. I never write a blog post every day, so I didn’t have much time to check everyone’s challenge. I will, though!

  4. Thanks for this series. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been very amusing!

    • Thank you, Luanne. I know that you’ve been here often and also in the past. I appreciate your comments and visits. My goal was to inform but also to have fun, so I’m glad if this is the way you felt. Come back soon!

  5. Vous allez faire des enregistrements pour nous ? Chouette ! J’ai hâte de les entendre. 🙂 Merci beaucoup pour cette belle série de posts et félicitations ! Vous avez survécu le défi “A à Z” !

    • Une bloggueuse américaine me l’a demandé et je ne peux rien refuser aux Américains! En tous cas, merci pour vos nombreuses visites et commentaires. Votre blog est super et je trouve votre français remarquable. Bravo!

      • Merci pour vos si gentils mots. Bien sûr je vais continuer à suivre votre blog! Comme le “A à Z” est fini, je vais chercher votre livre sur Amazon 🙂 Il est fantastique que vous écriviez des livres pour les jeunes dans votre deuxième langue !

  6. We have a similar expression in German which is “Punkt Punkt Komma Strich fertig ist das Mondgesicht” So that is Point Point (eyes), comma (nose), line (mouth), finished is the Moonface (at that moment you draw the circle around the head). 🙂
    Congratulations for making it through A to Z and finishing on time!

  7. Bravo to you too! I can’t think of a British equivalent of Toto – though we also have Knock Knock jokes. Maybe Hangman? Though I don’t know if that’s exclusively British.

    • The Knock Knock jokes are probably the closest to the French Toto’s Jokes. We also have the game of the Pendu or Hangman. Thank you, Anabel, or your support this month. Hope to see you soon.

  8. Congrats on the finish line!! I’ve loved reading your posts through this challenge and look forward to many future discussions! 🙂

  9. First, I want to say how much fun it has been to follow you through this month. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve laughed and I found myself racking my brain for English equivalents of some of these expressions.

    As for today’s expression, I’m not going to leave you with an English substitute, but a song. Billy Preston recorder “Nothin from Nothin leaves Nothin” in 1974. He was one of my favorite entertainers. Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of 59. So, if you want to relax for a couple minutes, give a listen to

    Great job Evelyne!

    • You are released from my daily comments, Dan! I appreciate your comments and I am glad that my series made you laugh. Today expression wasn’t initially my pick, but in the same way my French idioms made you rack your brain for English equivalents, my brain also switched gears as I searched. So this challenge has been good for our brains!
      I will listen to Billy Preston, since I don’t know him.
      Thanks again for keeping up with this A to Z French/American collaborative effort.

  10. Effectivement, tu étais inspirée pour z!

    • Je n’y pensais pas, partant pour Zéro sur Toute la Ligne, et puis pour une raison mystérieuse Toto est apparu! Tu as aussi fait la Tête à Toto, alors? Merci pour tes “likes” et comments. A plus.

  11. Beverly Broughton says:

    Thanks for sharing so generously…it was a stimulating journey!

  12. What a great series. I will miss it.

    • That’s so nice to hear! I owe the idea of the participation to a friend of mine and the challenge theme was an old idea of mine. Stop by again since I’ll record the idioms in French.

  13. Tarkabarka says:

    Congratulations on completing the challenge! 🙂 I hope you had fun! The linky list for the Reflections posts will be up on the main blog on Monday!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

  14. There used to be an equivalent character in American readers for elementary school kids back in the 1800s. I don’t remember the name, so I’ll have to do a little searching. Some of this stuff has just disappeared from the culture. More of it was familiar when i was a child. This has been a wonderful series!

    • That would be great to find out, Marilyn. I’d love to know. And thank you so very much for having been one of my most loyal readers this month. It has been a pleasure to read your comments and suggestions. See you soon.

  15. cardamone5 says:

    I have enjoyed every post so much, Evelyne (I thought about recording myself trying to pronounce some of the words in my exaggerated Pepe Le Pew accent, but I think that would insult rather than covey my appreciation!)

    I like this expression. It is an innovative way to teach children.

    Thank you for sharing. It was a great journey. Have you considered making this into a book? I would buy it!


  16. Thank you so much, Elizabeth. I have enjoyed sharing these little nuggets of my French background. Someone suggested the recording and I thought it would be a nice touch. I’ll be working soon on it. Let me get back to you for the book…
    See you soon.

  17. We played hangman and tic-tac-toe. Toto looks fun.
    Congratulations on your month of idioms. i learned a lot and hope you had a great month sharing with all of us.

  18. Nope, can’t say as I ever saw anything like that in my school days. Interesting way to learn 0 + 0 though.

  19. Just dropping in on Z Day to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed these all month. The last couple of weeks have been beyond crazy for me and I’ve wound up not reading any other blogs at all but yours–and I haven’t always been able to read your posts every day, either–but when I couldn’t, I’d save them and read two or three at a time when I had a free moment. I’m really sorry to see this series end. Such a great idea! Thanks!

    • Thank you, Melinda. I’m sure that there were many cool themes to visit this month. So don’t feel bad. Come back later. The posts won’t disappear and I will add my voice to them in a recording. 😊

  20. I love this Toto! A fine ending to a very enjoyable series.

  21. Sisyphus47 says:

    Superbe! ceci me fait vraiment voler vers mon enfance! 🙂 😉 😎

  22. Behind the Story says:

    Good job, Evelyne. This series was a lot of fun.

  23. Toto-ally impressive, Evelyn. 🙂 –Curt

  24. Je l’aime! My favourite French idiom is one my dad would always paraphrase when making a speech: “je parle Français comme une vache ‘Ecossais'” 😉

    • Thank you, Claire. You can tell your dad that he can also say that he speaks French comme une vache espagnole. Unless he’s scottish…
      I like your new photo icon!

  25. Very well done Evelyne, I really enjoyed your challenge, blogging like that every day is not easy but you did a wonderful job. I’m so glad to know that it was a positive experience for you. C’est magnifque 🙂

    • Thank you, Sherri. It was a new experience and I like to experiment, so that was good. Blogging every day isn’t possible for me since I work on longer writing projects that take most of my free time. But this series was something I had in mind, so the challenge gave me the opportunity to do it. I wasn’t expecting that readers would like it, so that was really what made it nice for me. I am thinking of another series at some point with other French ‘things!’ See you soon, Sherri.

  26. I’m very impressed Evelyne that you managed to find enough idioms to complete the challenge – well done and thanks for some very interesting stories and phrases 🙂

    • Thank you, Andrea. In fact many stories and phrases have been triggered by the comments I received. A few bloggers were providing so many good comments that it pushed me to provide better content. You are one of them!


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