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





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This expression is impossible to translate

Meaning: counting down the very few days left until the end


That’s a tricky one to explain, especially because I didn’t know this expression .

I knew each expression I picked for this 2018 challenge. To test their popularity in France, I asked my French blogger friend Simone for her approval or suggestions. She helped me beyond reasonable last year.

She and I, however, were stuck with the letter X this year.  I owe a big thank you to my husband for finding the expression X Au Jus. Still a challenge to explain 🙂

Jus in popular French can designate a coffee. For example, a weak tasteless coffee will be called jus de chaussette or socks’ juice. As a kid, I remember my mother asking neighbors if they wanted to stop by pour boire un jus, meaning to drink a cup of coffee.

The expression X Au Jus, however, puzzled me. It was used when the military draft was still in use in France. Young men were counting the days spent at the barrack until the last day finally arrived. The countdown was done using the breakfast coffee as a mark. Military coffee being not the best it was mostly called jus.

The expression can also be used for someone who is doing time in jail and is reaching the end of the sentence.

A more familiar term to describe the end of the mandatory military service or of a sentence in jail is la quille. Which by the way is as stricky to explain since la quille in nautical parlance is the keel. Go figure!



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


  1. Don’t know it either but know: t’as du jus (electricite) et/ou etre au jus/au courant

  2. I may have to adopt this as my retirement gets closer – maybe this time next year.

  3. I was wondering whether it was something good or something bad, Evelyne. Like are you counting down until your vacation begins or until it ends. Getting out of basic training or jail definitely seems good though. Maybe I can use it as I get ready for my thousand mile backpack trek. 🙂 –Curt

  4. Socks’ juice! I want to remember that for the next time I have bad coffee! I suppose our closest expressions would be “short-timer” or “T minus” — as in Time minus whatever-number-of-days-or-hours-or-minutes-left. “How many minutes until class is over?” “T minus five and counting.” That’s from rocket lift-off, of course.

    • For full disclosure American coffee tasted very weak in the early 1990s, years before Starbucks coffeeshops mushroomed. My husband and I compared it to “jus de chaussettes” quite often 🙂
      I’m glad to learn a new thing today. I didn’t know “T minus.” Thank you, Marian.

  5. X was a challenge for me too, but you found something interesting.
    People in jail, here, say “One day and a wake up,” for la quille.

  6. Naturally juicy X? Cooked rare with garlic?

  7. Mixed emotions as we near the end of the #Challenge. Disappointed in the numbers but loved the preparation and wouldn’t have missed visiting blogs like yours along the way. You did a fabulous job with the research and presentation. I happy as a student you have been a good teacher.

  8. It sounds like the expression must have gone out of fashion. Weekends In Maine

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