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




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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!


  1. This is timely. We have a company meeting to introduce our new “heath program” later today. Something tells me some of that is going to be unripe.

  2. A good point, since green tomatoes are slightly toxic. But where does that leave ‘fried green tomatoes?’ The there are rotten tomatoes, that are right up there with bad apples. –Curt

    • Unripe tomatoes illustrate the post, only becaus they showed up in my search for the expression, but the French saying doesn’t specify that the Green and Unripe are tomatoes. They can be anything bitter and sour.
      I LOVE fried green tomatoes and Rotten Tomatoes is a pretty good movies and TV shows review website:)

  3. That’s an interesting one. I really can’t think of a good English phrase for that. Off-color could sometimes apply, off-color jokes.

    • I’m relieved to see that it’s hard for native speakers to come up with an equivalent. The more I find them the more I realize that these French sayings are really strange, you know. Only four left!
      Thank you for stopping by, Joey.

  4. Cerises ? peut-être ? 🙂

  5. I can’t think of an equivalent one in English. We have a lot of ways to say we find what someone said unpleasant, but no idiomatic reference I can think of.

    • I could not find one either. And it’s cool, since it shows how languages have their own expressions. Some American ones don’t have a French equivalent either.

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