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

COUPER LES CHEVEUX EN QUATRE

 

 

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Literally: cut hair in four pieces

Best equivalent: nitpick

 

Being precise and meticulous is asked from a hairstylist. But too much can be too much for other things in life, right?

 

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

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

 

 

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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!

 

Zero Plus Zero Equals the Head of Toto or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Today marks the end of the series a Month of French Idioms From A to Z.

Through familiar French expressions and their equivalents in American English, I’ve shared for twenty-six days my affection for my two favorite countries on earth.

Languages and cultures may vary from one place to another, but the need for human beings to use metaphors and visuals to express ideas is the same.

The last French idiom du jour illustrates, in my opinion, how language and culture make one and how making them yours can take some time.

 

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ZÉRO PLUS ZÉRO ÉGALE LA TÊTE À TOTO

ZERO PLUS ZERO EQUALS THE HEAD OF TOTO

 

 

La Tête à Toto or The Head of Toto is a school game that was very much part of my French childhood.

It starts with this equation :

0+0=0

This how it works: You write the equation as a drawing and as you draw you recite.

 

photo(63)ZÉRO

photo(62)PLUS

photo(61)ZÉRO

photo(60)ÉGALE

photo(59)LA TÊTE À TOTO

 

Since Toto’s head equals zero, his intelligence is also zero.

Toto was a popular character in my elementary school culture. There were also many Toto’s jokes.

The equivalent of the French Toto’s jokes would be for me the American “Knock Knock” jokes.

 

I didn’t find an American equivalent to this unique French idiom/game.

Wherever you live or are from, did you play a similar childish game that was part of your culture?

Since I brought up my children in the USA, I’d love to know if today French kids still play 0+0= la Tête à Toto and if the Toto’s jokes are still around.

Les Français? Est-ce que les enfants jouent toujours à la tête à Toto?

 

Although daily blogging is not my cup of tea (See? I have a hard to time to stop the flow of idioms!), I am very grateful for your company and have been looking forward to your visits and comments.

I especially thank the bloggers and readers who have stuck with me for the whole month of April.

Your support, your fun and also relevant comments have made this challenge much more interesting.

Bravo to each blogger who made it to the final line of the 2015 race through the alphabet.

 

See you soon for a Recorded Version of this Series of French idioms!

Fried Whiting Eyes or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

As I wrote the literal translation for the French idiom du jour, I learned the proper name for the fish called “Merlan” in French.

For some reason I tend to mix and match the French and American names for the countless varieties of fish.

 

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YEUX DE MERLAN FRIT

FRIED WHITING EYES

MOON EYES

 

 

Since the end of the 19th century this expression is used to describe the adoring and a little stupid way people in love can sometimes look at each other.

In the 18th century the comparison was made with a carp and not a whiting.

This kind of look was especially used in old silent movies.

I find the English expression a little more accurate than the French one, although the literal translation made me smile.

 

P.S. The fish above is not a Merlan or a Whiting but a bass, caught (and released) by my son at our Maine cabin last summer.

 

 

A to Z Challenge

See you tomorrow!

 

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