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





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Literally: Have the stone slab

Best equivalent: Be famished


A dalle in French is a stone slab, but until the 16th century, it meant gutter or trough.

In slang, dalle also designated the throat.

By extension, “avoir la dalle” means to be very hungry.

Another common French expression, also using the noun dalle is “se rincer la dalle.” Rincer means to rinse. By extension, “se rincer la dalle” means to drink.


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



  1. So, my choice today is to be famished or to drink? Hmmm, I think I know which usage I’m going to focus on.

  2. Behind the Story says:

    Slang can take you far afield, although I suppose there is some similarity between and trough or gutter and a throat.

    • Indeed:)
      To be frank with you, I had no idea of the origin until I picked the expression that is very popular in France as well as its counterpart “Se rincer la dalle.”
      Thank you for stopping by, Nicki. Hope to see you again. Tomorrow is an even more popular expression 🙂

  3. Jamais entendu “se rinser la dalle”! 😉

  4. Aren’t words amazing, Evelyne. I am always interested in derivatives and how word meanings change over time.To move from ‘have the stone slab” to famished is quite the journey! Thanks. –Curt

  5. ya aussi “crever la dalle”… 🙂

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