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.

 

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

 

AVOIR LA FRITE

 

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Literally: To have the French fry (although usually used in plural, the expression uses the singular of fries)

Best equivalent: To be in top form

 

See you tomorrow for the letter G, part of the A to Z Challenge!

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

 

ÊTRE MAL BARRÉ

 

 

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From the French noun ‘barre,’ which in the nautical field means helm, wheel, tiller.

 

Best equivalent: Not standing a chance

 

The expression used in two sentences:

Je suis mal barré(e): I’m off to a bad start

C’est mal barré : It’s got off to a bad start

 

See you tomorrow for the letter F, part of the A to Z Challenge!

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

 

AVOIR LA DALLE

 

 

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Literally: Have the stone slab

Best equivalent: Be famished

 

A dalle in French is a stone slab, but until the 16th century, it meant gutter or trough.

In slang, dalle also designated the throat.

By extension, “avoir la dalle” means to be very hungry.

Another common French expression, also using the noun dalle is “se rincer la dalle.” Rincer means to rinse. By extension, “se rincer la dalle” means to drink.

 

See you tomorrow for the letter E, part of the A to Z Challenge!

 

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

 

CHANTER COMME UNE CASSEROLE

 

 

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Literally: Sing like a saucepan

Best equivalent: Sing out of tune

 

The expression likely comes from the banging of pans against each other, creating a loud unpleasant sound.

 

See you tomorrow for the letter D, part of the A to Z Challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

BROYER DU NOIR

 

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For the longest time, people thought that moods grew from the grinding of the black bile secreted in the stomach. In the 19th century, the expression “broyer du noir” started to mean feeling depressed.

There is actually another French expression around the bile. Se faire de la bile means to worry.

 

Perfect equivalent: Feel blue or Have the blues

 

See you tomorrow for the letter C, part of the A to Z Challenge!

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

 

AVALER DES COULEUVRES

 

 

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Literally: Swallow garter snakes

Best equivalent: Drink the Kool-Aid

 

This post is the first of twenty-six that starts the 2018 A to Z Challenge. Each will be published every day but Sunday, for the entire month of April.

Today is an exception. Maybe because it is April Fool’s Day, Poisson d’Avril for the French.

I already wrote about the twist French give to the tradition of practical jokes. This post is from 2011, when none of you knew me 🙂

See you tomorrow for the letter B!

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