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




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For the longest time, people thought that moods grew from the grinding of the black bile secreted in the stomach. In the 19th century, the expression “broyer du noir” started to mean feeling depressed.

There is actually another French expression around the bile. Se faire de la bile means to worry.


Perfect equivalent: Feel blue or Have the blues


See you tomorrow for the letter C, part of the A to Z Challenge!


  1. Ok – this expression I understand! I am loving these informative posts!

  2. This one is a little dark, but I’m OK with that. Better than the ‘A’ post, by a long shot.

  3. I really liked the history behind the idiom. I don’t think there is any perfect equivalent in Italian.

    • Thank you. Originally I planned to only give an equivalent in English, because I’m quite busy now. But I quickly realized that an expression without its roots doesn’t make much sense for someone who’s not a native speaker. So I will always add a bit of history.
      I wouldn’t know about Italian, though 🙂
      But you are making an interesting point. This is my fourth year doing the A to Z challenge and my third with French expressions and their equivalent or not in American English. Sometimes there is a perfect match, other times not at all, most of the times there is an equivalent but expressed differently. This one, for example, illustrates that feeling depressed for the French is associated with the color black while it is blue and the blues music for the Americans.
      What would you say in Italian when you feel depressed?

  4. Heartburn! 🙂 –Curt

    • Yep! This is great to see you once again as I plow my way through the alphabet. It was not hard to find expressions, although it’s always a challenge for the same letters. What takes time is to explain the origin and the meaning.
      I like this one because of the black color that becomes blue for the Americans.

      • Been a bit hard to keep up with all of my Internet connections over the past month, Evelyne, since Peggy and I have made two journeys back east to see our kids and grandkids. Now I am sitting in Charlotte, NC with a touch of the flu, which isn’t helpful either. 🙂 But I always enjoy your challenges. –Curt

  5. There’s a whole musical genre called the blues, so now I’m wondering if broyer du noir ever shows up in songs. It’s so evocative!


  1. […] but then that would confuse the whole meaning of “having the blues.” Interestingly enough, Evelyne pointed out in an earlier expression that “…the French see things in black when down when the Americans see or feel them in blue.” […]

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