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

METTRE LES PIEDS DANS LE PLAT

 

 

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Literally: to put one’s feet in the dish

Best equivalent: to mess up

 

When someone starts talking in a very unfiltered way about something everybody was careful to avoid, the French say he or she met les pieds dans le plat.

 

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

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

S’OCCUPER (OU) SE MÊLER DE SES OIGNONS

 

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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!

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

 

LES DOIGTS DANS LE NEZ

 

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Literally: fingers in the nose

Best equivalent: hands down

 

When something is very easy to do, the French often say: les doigts dans le nez, implying that it’s so simple you have time to put your fingers in your nose while accomplishing the task. Here in the States, we are a little less graphic 🙂

 

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

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

 

AVOIR LA MAIN VERTE

 

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Literally: Have the green hand

Perfect equivalent: Have the green thumb

 

This expression doesn’t need any explanation.

For once, the French and the Americans fully agree.

Almost 🙂

 

See you Monday with the letter N, part of the A to Z challenge!

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

LÂCHER LES BASKETS

 

 

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Literally: Let go off the baskets (remember: baskets are sneakers in French)

Best equivalent: Give a break (to someone)

 

Lâche-moi les baskets, for example, would be “give me a break,” or “get off my back.”

 

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

 

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

C’EST PARTI, MON KIKI!

 

Literally: It left, my Kiki.

Best equivalents: Here we go! We’re off.

 

The noun Kiki in French can also be used to designate the throat. But in this expression, it’s unrelated.

 

See you tomorrow with the letter L, part of the A to Z challenge!

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

JALOUX COMME UN POU

 

 

 

Literally: As jealous as lice

Best equivalent: Green-eyed, green with envy

Do I need to explain more? Anyone who has dealt with lice knows how territorial the parasites can be.

As always, if you know an American English expression that would match the French expression du jour, go for it!

 

See you tomorrow with the letter K, part of the A to Z challenge!

 

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

 

UN VIOLON D’INGRES

 

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Literally: Ingres’s violin

Best equivalent: A hobby

 

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was a French artist from the 19th century. In addition to painting, he enjoyed playing the violin and was quite a good musician. By extension, anyone who passionately pursues an activity besides a professional career has a Violon d’Ingres.

 

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

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

 

LA FIN DES HARICOTS

 

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Literally: The end of the French beans

Best equivalents: It is the end of it all. The end of the road, when all hope is lost.

 

One said that the expression took roots in boarding schools, where food was meager. Beans were part of each meal, so when there were not even beans left, that was the end of everything. Others mention origins dating as far back as the Middle Ages where hunger was frequent. In any case, the expression signals a loss of hope and can be used in different contexts. Just a few examples:

When it is obvious that a soccer team won’t possibly catch up with its opponent, when a business can only close, when someone has to go bankrupt, when a relationship is deteriorating so much that there is no hope to salvage it.

 

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

 

 

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

 

GRENOUILLE DE BÉNITIER

 

 

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Literally: Church font’s frog

The expression is used to describe someone who is very churchy.

Would we say a zealot in English?

Tell me.

 

See you on Monday for the letter H, part of the A to Z Challenge!

 

P.S. Yesterday, one of the biggest names of the French musical scene died. Jacques Higelin was a songwriter and a musician, but also an actor and a human rights’ activist. He played a big role in my high school life. Pars is the song that brought him visibility, even though he had already started his long musical career. This song was also the soundtrack on many of many of my evenings. Often, American people have told me that they like French songs, even if they don’t understand the lyrics. If you have a few minutes, listen to Pars. Emotion-packed, the song carries a distinct French flavor and yet feels as fresh as when I played it on my turntable. Again. Again. And again.

Thank you for this song and the many others you wrote, Monsieur Higelin.

 

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