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



Embed from Getty Images


Literally: to care about one’s own onions

Best equivalent: mind one’s own business


The expression could have American origins. In the 1920s, many onion species grew in the U.S. People who worked in this field developed skills to learn how to distinguish the different kinds. Soon, they minded about their particular species, which became their exclusive business. Who knows for sure? What is sure, however, is that the French expression is used to remind someone to mind her/his own business.

The French can also say: Ce ne sont pas tes oignons. Literally: they are not your onions. In both expressions, oignons never designate onions but anything related to personal business.


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


  1. Ha, I like that one 🙂 From now on, I shall tell people to mind their onions!

  2. I like that. A little less direct. It makes the recipient think for a minute.

    • It is obvious to a French native-speaker but takes a little more time to someone learning the language, for sure. When I was a newcomer here, I didn’t understand the expression “It’s a catch 22.” It is now part of my own vocabulary, but it took me a while to get it.
      That’s another reason why I like these expressions.

  3. hilarymb says:

    Hi Evelyne – isn’t it interesting picking up the different nuances – love this one … I think I’ll be saying mind your onions … mind you people are having trouble with some of my English or South African expressions here … so I guess if I add that in – I’ll be totally incomprehensible!! Cheers Hilary

    • I get you! I used to translate some of the French expressions in English, here in the USA, with mixed success. When I said that I had a cat in the throat or the hen’s bumps, I understood that expressions don’t often translate well.
      Thank you for another visit, Hilary.

  4. I’m thinking, Evelyne, maybe that onions and garlic come with strong smells and onions can make you cry. Maybe it means mind your own stinky business as that opposed to your neighbor. I like it. –Curt

  5. Interesting that onions would relate to one’s personal belongings. Weekends In Maine

  6. It’s no different than the English, “Mind your own bee’s wax,” that kids used to say to each other. I wonder if they still do…


  1. […] For funny and weird French expressions see Evelyne’s blog. […]

%d bloggers like this: