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





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Literally: Swallow garter snakes

Best equivalent: Drink the Kool-Aid


This post is the first of twenty-six that starts the 2018 A to Z Challenge. Each will be published every day but Sunday, for the entire month of April.

Today is an exception. Maybe because it is April Fool’s Day, Poisson d’Avril for the French.

I already wrote about the twist French give to the tradition of practical jokes. This post is from 2011, when none of you knew me 🙂

See you tomorrow for the letter B!


  1. Eeeeeeew – OK, very happy to have ‘A’ out of the way. Good luck with a more palatable ‘B’ phrase. Happy Easter.

    • Well…
      B won’t exactly be that palatable either 🙂
      Not so vivid, though!
      Thank you for your constant support and Happy Easter to you and your family too.

  2. I am not clear on why one would need such an expression. Oh….. Kool Aid like in Jim Jones Kool Aid? Is this an expression one uses when giving medicine?

    • First, no, this expression is not used when giving medicine.
      As soon as I had published my post my husband and I were talking about the expression.
      Although we are both French we sometimes disagree on the “exact” meaning of a word or expression.
      For me, someone who “avale des couleuvres” believes anything and doesn’t fight back when under attack.
      My husband’s understanding is slightly different. He said that when he was a kid he sometimes twisted the truth. His parents were aware of it and said that he was trying to make them “avaler des couleuvres.”
      When I searched for an equivalent the expression “Drink the Kool Aid” came to my mind.
      Someone who “avale des couleuvres” is guillible.
      I hope it helps you to better understand the meaning of this very French expression.
      Thank you for you support and visit.

  3. What a funny expression. I love learning other languages idioms. Sometimes they are so strange and they say something abotu the culture who speak them.

    • Thank you for stopping by. I so agree with you. Expressions tell a lot about the culture. This is why they rarely have an exact equivalent.
      I will now go see what you are up to this month:)

  4. This phrase brings up interesting imagery. Weekends In Maine

  5. Bonjour Mme Évelyne
    J’aime votre article qui est instructif
    André Bouchard

  6. My first reaction was that of SD Gates. I’m pretty sure that the kids in the Jim Jones compound didn’t know they were drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid.On another note, I have seen snakes swallowing snakes. Interesting. –Curt

    • That’s a strange expression for sure. I added a short explanation to SD Gates’s comment. Maybe you’ve read it?

      • I did read it, Evelyne. It was strictly a dark American twist to the definition. I was young when Jim Jones did his ugly deed and it has always stuck in my mind. There’s an American phrase that is used on occasion, “Don’t drink the Kool Aid” that means you should be skeptical about what people are offering you that relates back to the Jonestown massacre. –Curt

  7. Yikes!

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