From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

 

LA BOULE À ZÉRO

 

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Literally: the ball at zero

Best equivalent: shaved head

 

In popular French la boule designates the head. Maybe soccer fans remember the French soccer star Zidane’s infamous “coup de boule” that earned him a red card.

Back to the expression du jour: A shaved  head with no hair left can be described as having la boule à zéro.

 

While doing this 2018 challenge I gathered so many expressions that I can already promise to be back next year for another round of 26 funny, weird, vivid French expressions.

 

Meanwhile I want to thank each and every one of you SO, SO MUCH for sticking with me as I plowed my way from A to Z through the alphabet!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

YOYOTER DE LA CAFETIÈRE

 

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Literally: playing yo-yo with the coffee maker

Best equivalent: to have a screw loose

 

In French une cafetière is a coffee maker, but in slang it designates the head or the brain. Yoyoter is a fabricated verb based on the yo-yo game, described as simple. By extension, a person with a simple mind, someone who says strange things can be portrayed as yoyoter de la cafetière.

 

See you on Monday for the letter Z, the last letter for the A to Z challenge!

Meanwhile, enjoy your weekend!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

 X AU JUS

 

 

 

 

Literally:?

This expression is impossible to translate

Meaning: counting down the very few days left until the end

 

That’s a tricky one to explain, especially because I didn’t know this expression .

I knew each expression I picked for this 2018 challenge. To test their popularity in France, I asked my French blogger friend Simone for her approval or suggestions. She helped me beyond reasonable last year.

She and I, however, were stuck with the letter X this year.  I owe a big thank you to my husband for finding the expression X Au Jus. Still a challenge to explain 🙂

Jus in popular French can designate a coffee. For example, a weak tasteless coffee will be called jus de chaussette or socks’ juice. As a kid, I remember my mother asking neighbors if they wanted to stop by pour boire un jus, meaning to drink a cup of coffee.

The expression X Au Jus, however, puzzled me. It was used when the military draft was still in use in France. Young men were counting the days spent at the barrack until the last day finally arrived. The countdown was done using the breakfast coffee as a mark. Military coffee being not the best it was mostly called jus.

The expression can also be used for someone who is doing time in jail and is reaching the end of the sentence.

A more familiar term to describe the end of the mandatory military service or of a sentence in jail is la quille. Which by the way is as stricky to explain since la quille in nautical parlance is the keel. Go figure!

 

 

See you tomorrow for the letter Y, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

WATERLOO, MORNE PLAINE

 

 

 

Literally: Waterloo, gloomy plain

Best equivalent: dreary outlook

 

The expression goes back to the battle of Waterloo, fought on June 18, 1815 in Belgium between the British army helped by the Prussian army against the French army led by Napoléon the First. The French army was defeated, but neither Napoléon nor anyone who fought said “Waterloo, morne plaine.”

Victor Hugo, however, wrote this poem about the battle of Waterloo.

Due to the poem and to the French defeat at Waterloo, when the French say, “Waterloo, morne plaine,” they depict a dreary outlook.

One of my numerous cousins, younger than me, told me the other day that she doesn’t use this expression and didn’t even know it. Surprised, I’m now asking my French readers.

Une de mes nombreuses cousines, sept ans plus jeune que moi, m’a dit récemment qu’elle n’utilisait pas cette expression et ne la connaissait pas. Je suis surprise, mais je veux savoir 🙂

 

See you tomorrow for the letter Y, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

DES VERTES ET DES PAS MÛRES

 

 

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Literally: some green and some unripe

Meaning: to tell or to listen to unpleasant excessive remarks

Best equivalent: ?

Your turn, please!

 

In the 15th century the French adjective vert designated the color green, but was also used to describe jokes or unpleasant remarks. Mûr(e) means ripe and pas mûr(e) unripe. A green, unripe fruit leaves an unpleasant taste on the tongue as listening to excessive, harsh remarks does.

To tell des vertes et des pas mûres means making unpleasant comments to someone. Someone can also listen to des vertes et des pas mûres. The expression can also be used to describe a rough life: she or he has seen des vertes et des pas mûres.

 

 

See you tomorrow for the letter W, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

UN DE CES QUATRE

 

 

 

 

Literally: one of those fours

Best equivalent: see you around

 

Depending of the sources, the expression draws its origin from the four limbs, the four seasons or still the four cardinal points.

 

See you tomorrow for the letter V, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

TOMBER DANS LES POMMES

 

 

 

Literally: to fall in the apples

Meaning: to faint

Best equivalent: ?

Yet another French expression that takes roots in the Middle Ages. The earliest version was Tomber dans les pâmes, from the verb Se pâmer, which still means to faint. Pâmes slowly morphed to pommes (apples in French) in this expression. Se pâmer is now more often used in a figurative way of speech.

Se pâmer for someone or something means to fall for someone or something extremely great. It implies a strong feeling of admiration close to fainting.

When the expression Tomber dans les Pommes is still very current, se pâmer is old fashioned and carries a note of irony.

 

See you tomorrow for the letter S, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

RACONTER DES SALADES

 

 

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Literally: to tell salads

The equivalent I found seems too British to me: spinning yarns

Your Turn!

What do you say?

 

See you on Monday for the letter T, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

RIRE COMME UNE BALEINE

 

 

 

 

Literally: laugh like a whale

Best equivalent: laugh one’s head off

 

See you tomorrow for the letter S, part of the A to Z challenge!

From A to Z, Twenty-Six Funny, Weird, Vivid French Expressions

COUPER LES CHEVEUX EN QUATRE

 

 

 

Literally: cut hair in four pieces

Best equivalent: nitpick

 

Being precise and meticulous is asked from a hairstylist. But too much can be too much for other things in life, right?

 

See you tomorrow for the letter R, part of the A to Z challenge!

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