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




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Literally: Waterloo, gloomy plain

Best equivalent: dreary outlook


The expression goes back to the battle of Waterloo, fought on June 18, 1815 in Belgium between the British army helped by the Prussian army against the French army led by Napoléon the First. The French army was defeated, but neither Napoléon nor anyone who fought said “Waterloo, morne plaine.”

Victor Hugo, however, wrote this poem about the battle of Waterloo.

Due to the poem and to the French defeat at Waterloo, when the French say, “Waterloo, morne plaine,” they depict a dreary outlook.

One of my numerous cousins, younger than me, told me the other day that she doesn’t use this expression and didn’t even know it. Surprised, I’m now asking my French readers.

Une de mes nombreuses cousines, sept ans plus jeune que moi, m’a dit récemment qu’elle n’utilisait pas cette expression et ne la connaissait pas. Je suis surprise, mais je veux savoir 🙂


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

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