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Le coin des branchés

Jeux de rôle

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Movies and Movie Talks

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Petites histoires et poèmes

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Enfants 1 (sites généraux, jeux, vidéos, vocabulaire,
grammaire et phonétique)

Enfants 2 (chansons, contes, comptines et histoires courtes)



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Être branché = to be in the know (lit.: to be plugged in). Une expression idiomatique qui est en train d'être remplacée parmi les jeunes par "Etre câblé"…

Dans ce "Coin des branchés" sont regroupés bon nombre d'expressions idiomatiques utilisées dans le langage courant, que les étudiants trouvent souvent amusant d'apprendre, petit à petit…

Les expressions citées dans cette page sont plus ou moins classées par thèmes - bien que les expressions soient bien souvent utilisés dans un tout autre contexte que les mots employés ! La plupart sont reproduites de la rubrique qui paraît dans chaque numéro de French Accent Magazine. Cette page sera donc mise à jour constamment.


Sommaire du Coin des branchés

La météo

Le temps et la fréquence

Expressions inspirées du langage de la nature

Expressions inspirées des fleurs

Expressions inspirées des animaux

Expressions inspirées des insectes

Expressions utilisant des fruits ou légumes

Expressions sur le thème de la botanique

Expressions inspirées par les fromages, et les chèvres

Expressions inspirées des couleurs

Expressions inspirées de l'eau et du feu

Expressions avec le mot "air"

Expressions inspirées de la cuisine

Expressions sur la consommation de vin

Expressions inspirées du bricolage

Expressions utilisant le vocabulaire du corps humain

Expressions avec des vêtements

Expressions avec le mot "coeur"

Expressions sur le thème du mensonge et de la tromperie

Expressions avec les mots "ange","diable" et "démon"

Les expressions qui tuent

Le langage de l'amour, des sentiments et des relations sexuelles

Entre rêve et folie

Expressions utilisant des termes de la musique

Les enfants

L'âge

La maladie

Le langage du monde du travail

L'argent, la fortune...

Faire la fête

Le langage du jeu

L'humour

Le langage des lettres NEW

Expressions inspirées du langage des modes de transport

Expressions sur le thème du départ


Le langage de la politique

Expressions sur le thème des manifs : colère, violence et leurs conséquences

Expressions sur le thème du confinement

Argot et gros mots

Expressions avec l'adjectif "bon" (et "bonne")

Expressions avec le mot "coin"

Expressions avec le mot "coup"

Expressions avec le verbe "casser"

Expressions avec le verbe "donner"

Quelques expressions avec le verbe "faire"

Quelques expressions avec le verbe "mettre"

Quelques expressions avec le verbe "passer"

Expressions avec le verbe "prendre"

Expressions avec le verbe "rester"

Expressions avec le verbe "tenir"

Expressions avec le verbe "tomber"

Expressions sur le thème entrer", "sortir", etc.

Mots ou expressions utilisant X, Y ou Z

Expressions utilisant des chiffres

Expressions populaires diverses

Expressions très bizarres

Expressions sur le thème "apprendre le français, mémoriser, oublier..."

Verbes qui peuvent vouloir dire tout à fait autre chose

Expressions qui veulent dire juste le contraire des mots utilisés

Expressions utilisant des mots anglais

Expressions démontrant les contradictions entre l'anglais et le français

Expressions belges

Citations sur le thème de la liberté d'expression

Quelques abréviations



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La météo

1) LA PLUIE ET LE BEAU TEMPS :

Parler de la pluie et du beau temps = to talk about everything and anything, such as the weather, when people meet, or when they have nothing much to say .

Faire la pluie et le beau temps = to decide about everything, to make all the important decisions… (in companies, for example).

Après la pluie le beau temps = every cloud has a silver lining.

2) AUTRES EXPRESSIONS OU PROVERBES SUR LE TEMPS, OU LE PRINTEMPS :

Il pleut des cordes = it's raining cats and dogs.

Il pleut comme vache qui pisse = idem.

Marcher sous la pluie = to walk in the rain.

Il pleuviote = it's raining lightly.

Je suis trempé de la tête aux pieds = I am soaked from head to toe.

J'ai pris une sacrée douche/sauce = I was wet through and through.

Il fait un froid de canard = it's terribly cold.

Il caille = it's freezing.

On pèle de froid = it's bitterly cold/It's colder than a witch's tit.

Je suis complètement gelé(e) = I'm totally frozen.

J'ai la chair de poule = I have goose bumps.

Un brouillard à couper au couteau = a fog so thick you could cut it with a knife.

C'est couvert ce matin = it's overcast this morning. C'est complètement couvert = It's totally overcast.

C'est une purée de pois = the fog is as thick as soup.

Un vent à décorner les bœufs = a wind so strong it could blow the horns off of cattle.

Il fait un temps de chien = the weather is very bad.

Ce n'est pas un temps à mettre un chien dehors = it's not weather fit for beast or man.

Il y a un brin de soleil = there is a ray of sunshine.

Il fait un soleil de plomb = the sun is beating down/It is sweltering.

On crève de chaud = we are dying from the heat. One also use the verb crever , as slang for "to die", in other expressions such as: crever de peur, de faim, de soif…

Il fait lourd aujourd'hui = it's sultry today.

Il y a de l'orage dans l'air = there is a storm on the horizon. This expression, as in English, can also be used in a figurative sense, meaning that there is tension, for example in a couple, a classroom, etc.

Ça va tourner en orage = there is a storm approaching.

Ça va claquer fort = it's going to be a violent thunderstorm.

Il neigeotte = it's snowing lightly.

La neige est devenue de la vraie gadoue = the snow has turned in to dirty slush.

Noël au balcon, Pâques aux tisons = a warm Christmas means a cold Easter.

Les giboulées de mars = March snow flurries.

En avril ne te découvre pas d'un fil = in the month of April don't dress too lightly.

Le soleil montre le bout de son nez = the sun is just coming out (is just poking its nose out from behind a cloud).

En mai fais ce qu'il te plaît = in May do whatever you like.

Une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps = one swallow doesn't necessary signal the arrival of spring.

3) AUTRES EXPRESSIONS OU PROVERBES UTILISANT DES MOTS DU LANGAGE DU TEMPS POUR PARLER D'AUTRE CHOSE:

Etre dans les nuages = to be spaced out.

Etre/vivre sur son petit nuage = to live in a sort of fantasy world.

Etre dans le brouillard = to be in a fog, to have trouble seeing things clearly.

Contre vents et marées, envers et contre tout = through thick and thin/come hell or high water.

Voir d'où vient le vent, voir de quel côté vient le vent = to see which way the wind is blowing/to see which way the cat jumps.

Qui sème le vent récolte la tempête = as you sow, so shall you reap.

Ça me fait froid dans le dos = that gives me the shivers up and down my spine.

Etre au printemps de sa vie = to be in the fullness of one's youth.

Il n'y a rien de nouveau sous le soleil = there is nothing new under the sun.

4) SUR LE THEME "Il fait chaud"

Attraper un coupde soleil =To get sunburned. Lit.: to get a blow, a knock, from the sun. Ex.: J'étais sûr qu'en restant si longtemps sur la plage, tu attraperais un coup de soleil ! = I was sure that if you stayed so long on the beach, you'd get sunburned!

Il fait un soleil de plomb = The sun is blazing. Lit.: The sun is made of lead. Ex.: J'attends le soir pour sortir, maintenant il fait un soleil de plomb ! = I'll wait until the evening to go out, now the sun is blazing!

Rien de nouveau sous le soleil = An easy expression as it is the same in English: Nothing new under the sun. Ex.: Marc est encore en retard, rien de nouveau sous le soleil. = Marc is late again, nothing new under the sun.

Ça ne me fait ni chaud ni froid = I don't mind either way, it makes no difference to me. Lit.: It makes me feel neither hot nor cold. Ex.: On peut aller au parc aujourd'hui ou demain, comme tu veux, ça ne me fait ni chaud ni froid. = We can go to the park today or tomorrow, it makes no difference to me.

Être en froid avec... = To be in not so good terms with... someone, and not something, usually. However, in the cartoon on the left you can see that "Le Chat" of the artist Philippe Geluck says, in a play on words, Je suis en froid avec la chaleur, which means that he's on bad terms with the heat, he doesn't like it. Here is an example of a more common way to use this expression: Nous sommes en froid avec nos voisins depuis qu'ils ont interdit à leur fils de venir jouer avec nos enfants. = We're on bad terms with our neighbors since they forbid their son to come play with our kids.



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Le temps et la fréquence

En un rien de temps = very quickly.

À temps = on time.

Un laps de temps = a very short time.

Tout le temps = all the time.

De temps en temps = from time to time.

Entre temps = in the meantime.

En même temps = at the same time, simultaneously.

Les trois quarts du temps/la plupart du temps/le plus clair du temps = most of the time.

Dans le temps = in the old ages/in olden times/way back when.

Ces derniers temps = recently. Ces derniers temps, je l'ai trouvé un peu fatigué = R ecently, I found he looked a little tired.

De mon temps = when I was younger.

Le bon vieux temps = old times (an expression mainly used by old people remembering their youth). C'était le bon vieux temps, on faisait ce qu'on voulait = It was the good old times, we could do anything we wanted.

Prendre le temps = to take the needed time to do something. Maintenant je prends le temps d'aller au cinéma chaque week-end = Now, I take the time to go to the movies every weekend.

Prendre son temps = to take all the time, to go as slowly as needed. J'aime prendre mon temps, si je vais trop vite je ne fais rien de bien = I like taking my time, if I go too fast I don't do anything properly.

Il faut laisser le temps au temps = one must let time pass and not be in a hurry when unnecessary; an expression coined by President François Mitterrand, and used as the title and theme of a song by the French singer Didier Barbelivien in 1990.

Chaque chose en son temps = everything in its own time.

Perdre son temps/tout son temps = to waste one's time, to go too slowly for no reason.

Un temps mort = a moment during which nothing is happening.

Tuer le temps/faire passer le temps = to kill time/to do anything to avoid getting bored while time is passing by so slowly. Pour tuer le temps/faire passer le temps, je lui raconte des histoires = To kill time/to make the time go by, I tell him stories.

Il y a un temps pour tout = there is a time for everything.

Au bon moment = at the right time.

Glander/traîner = to hang around, to waste time by doing something or going somewhere slowly, with something else in mind.

Faire le pont = to take a longer weekend by not working for example on Friday when Thursday is an official holiday.

Faire le viaduc = to take the full week off when at least two days in a week are official holidays.

Partir ventre à terre = to leave in a flash, to rush.

Il faut se lever de bonne heure ! = It is very difficult (to accomplish something usually). Lit.: One has to get up early. Ex.: Pour trouver un appartement en plein centre du vieux village, il faut se lever de bonne heure ! = It is very difficult to find a flat in the centre of this old village!

Passer un mauvais quart d'heure =  To go through hell, to be in for a rough time. Lit.: To spend a difficult 15 mins. Ex.: Quand la femme de Jacques l'a retrouvé complètement ivre, il a passé un mauvais quart d'heure ! = When Jacques's wife found him totally drunk, he was in for a rough time.

Remettre les pendules à l'heure = To set the record straight. Lit.: To reset the clocks back on time. Ex.: Bon, nous n'avancerons pas dans ce projet si tout le monde dit n'importe quoi. Il faut remettre les pendules à l'heure et essayer d'avoir une discussion fructueuse ! = Well, we won't get further with this project if everybody says any stupid thing at all. We have to set the record straight and try to have a fruitful discussion!

Chercher midi à quatorze heures = To make things more complicated that they really are. Lit.: To look for noon at 2:00 pm. Ex.: Ne va pas chercher midi à quatorze heures, je veux juste savoir si tu as le temps de préparer un dessert pour demain ! = Don't make things more complicated than it needs to be, I just want to know if you have the time to make a dessert for tomorrow!

Attendre son  heure = To bide one's time, to wait until conditions are better. Lit.: To wait for one's (appointed)time. Ex.: J'ai su attendre mon heure, et ça a marché ! Mon patron m'a accordé une promotion ! = I knew how to bide my time, and it worked! My boss gave me a promotion!


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Expressions inspirées du langage de la nature

Découvrir le pot aux roses = to uncover the secret of a case, a matter, a plot.

Faire le pot de fleurs = to stay in the same place for a long time without moving, such as policemen who are guarding a building. Also used by wives of French officials who are invited to an official dinner and complain that they only serve as a decoration but are not really expected to say anything substantial.

Faire feu de tout bois = to use all means in one's power to obtain something or to find a solution.

Voir de quel bois on se chauffe = we'll see what kind of person I am. Tu penses que je ne vais pas y arriver ? Tu vas voir de quel bois je me chauffe ! = You think I won't make it? You'll see what kind of person I am!

Être sur la paille = to be broke.

Couper/faucher l'herbe sous le pied de quelqu'un = to be the fi rst to attain something or succeed, at the expense of another person.

Pousser comme de la mauvaise herbe = to grow very quickly. Literally, to grow like weeds

En herbe = to be a beginner, or apparently gifted for something. Cette enfant aime bien faire des massages ! C'est une masseuse en herbe. = This little girl loves giving massages. It seems that she is gifted as a masseuse.

Etre une mauvaise graine = to be a not very good person, without a very promising future, to be a bad lot. Especially used about children or teenagers.

Manger des pissenlits par la racine = to be dead. Pissenlits are dandelions.

Prendre racine = used to talk about guests who stay far too long.

Couper la branche sur laquelle on est assis = to saw off the limb on which one is sitting.

C'est l'arbre qui cache la forêt = you can't see the forest for the trees.

Pierre qui roule n'amasse pas mousse = a rolling stone gathers no moss.

Filer du mauvais coton = to put oneself in a difficult situation because of one's attitude. Cette étudiante ne vient plus jamais aux cours. Elle risque de ne pas réussir. Elle file du mauvais coton ! = This student never comes to the lessons any more. She takes the risk to fail. She puts herself in a difficult situation!

Effeuiller la marguerite = to pluck one by one the petals of a daisy, in a game to test one's love. "She loves me, she love me not..."

 

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Expressions inspirées des animaux

1) CHATS ET CHIENS :

Avoir un chat dans la gorge = to have a frog in one's throat; one also says: avoir un crapaud (= a toad) dans la gorge.

Donner sa langue au chat = to admit that you can't find the answer, to remain silent (lit.: to give one's tongue to the cat). Ex. : Je ne vois pas du tout de quoi tu veux parler, je donne ma langue au chat = I don't see at all what you mean, I can't say anything (and I'm waiting for you to tell me what all this is about…).

Il n'y a pas un chat = there's not a soul/nobody here, the place is deserted. Examples: Il n'y a pas un chat dans cette ville le dimanche. = There is nobody in this city on Sundays. Depuis le confinement, il n'y a pas un chat dans les bars. = Since the confinement, there isn't a soul in the bars.

Appeler un chat un chat = to call a spade a spade, to be honest and frank. Ex.: Avec mon patron, les choses sont claires, il appelle un chat un chat. = With my boss, things are clear, he calls a spade a spade/he is honest and frank.

Avoir d'autres chats à fouetter = to have other fish to fry, to have something else (more important) to think/to worry about (lit.: to have other cats to whip). Examples: Je m'en fiche complètement s'il ne veut pas penser sérieusement à son avenir, j'ai d'autres chats à fouetter != I don't care at all if he doesn't want to think seriously about his future, I have other fish to fry!. Tu veux que je passe toute la soirée avec tes copines? Non merci, j'ai d'autres chats à fouetter ! = You want me to spend the whole evening with your friends? No thanks, I've better things to do!

Avoir des yeux de chat = to see very clearly in the dark.

Ecrire comme un chat = to have a bad, unreadable, handwriting.

Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide = Once bitten, twice shy (lit.: a scalded cat fears cold water). Ex.: Crois-moi, elle ne va pas me mentir une deuxième fois, chat échaudé craint l'eau froide = Believe me, she won't lie to me a second time, once bitten, twice shy.

Faire une toilette de chat = to wash oneself very quickly, with just a little water.

Une chatte n'y retrouverait pas ses petits  = It is a mess/a total chaos(disorder in a house for example), or: it is a very complex situation (lit.: a female cat won't be able to find her babies). Ex.: Regarde la chambre de mon fils, une chatte n'y retrouverait pas ses petits != Look at my son's bedroom, it is a mess!

Quand le chat n'est pas là, les souris dansent = While the cat's away, the mice will play. This expression is very similar to the English one, except that the mice are dancing... Most of the time, like in English the French only say the first part: Tant pis pour toi j'ai pris ta place. Quand le chat n'est pas là... = Too bad for you, I took your seat. While the cat's away...

Quand le chat est parti, les souris dansent = When the cat's away, the mice will play.

Jouer au chat et à la souris = to play cat and mouse.

Jouer à chat perché = to play off-ground tag.

Il ne faut pas réveiller le chat qui dort = Let sleeping dogs lie (lit.: Don't wake the sleeping cat).

Les chiens ne font pas des chats = Like father like son (lit.: Dogs don't have cats). Ex.: Ce gamin est aussi têtu que son père, les chiens ne font pas des chats ! = This boy is as stubborn as his father, like father like son!

Etre comme chien et chat = to fight constantly for little things.

Avoir un mal de chien à faire quelque chose = To face many difficulties in doing something.

Avoir un caractère de chien = to have a bad temper.

Etre malade comme un chien = to be very sick.

Un temps de chien = a very bad weather, a terrible weather. Ex.: S'il continue à faire un temps de chien, je vais annuler mon week-end à la campagne = If the weather continues to be so bad, I'll cancel my weekend at the countryside.

Ce n'est pas un temps à mettre un chien dehors = it's not weather fit for man or beast.

Les chiens aboient, la caravane passe = to each his own (lit.: The dogs bark, the caravan goes by).

2) ANIMAUX DE LA FERME :

Sauter du coq à l'âne = to jump from one subject to another while talking to people (lit.: to jump from rooster to donkey).

Dire des âneries = to say stupid things.

Etre têtu comme un âne = to be stubborn as a donkey.

Un dos d'âne = a speed bump (lit. = a donkey's back).

Etre à cheval entre… = to be in between…. Ce terrain est à cheval entre deux maisons = This field is in between two houses. Cet auteur a passé sa vie à cheval entre la littérature et la science = This author has spent his life in between literature and science.

Etre à cheval sur les principes = to be very strict in applying one's principles.

Un cheval de Troie = A Trojan horse.

Mettre la charrue avant les bœufs = to put the cart before the horse (lit.: to put the plough before the oxen).

La vache ! = one of the several equivalents of "wow" - an interjection expressing surprise, either positive or negative. Elle a réussi ? La vache ! Je n'y croyais pas = She succeeded ? Wow, I wouldn't have believed it. La vache ! Il a encore augmenté ses tarifs. = Wow! He has raised his fees, again.

Une vacherie = a dirty trick, a rather nasty move. Mon patron m'a fait une vacherie, il m'a refusé de prendre un jour de congé de plus = My boss played a dirty trick on me, he refused to let me take one more day off.

Vachement = very, a lot, extremely. Il est vachement beau, ce mec = He is very handsome, that guy. J'ai vachement faim = I am starving. Cette soupe est vachement dégueu. = This soup is very disgusting.

Le plancher des vaches = on dry land (an expression mainly used by sailors when they come back from a sailing trip. Synonym: la terre ferme.

Le temps des vaches maigres = a lean/belt tightening period.

Une peau de vache = A bastard (for a man), a bitch (for a woman). Lit.: A cow's skin. Ex.: La directrice de l'école est une vraie peau de vache = The director of the school is a real bitch.

Manger de la vache enragée = to have trouble making ends meet, to face a difficult time.

Parler anglais comme une vache espagnole = to speak very broken English (lit.: to speak English like a Spanish cow).

Un mouton = someone who is easily impressionable and follows others without thinking for himself.

Un mouton à cinq pattes = a rare bird, something that you are looking for but which is almost impossible to find.

Ménager la chèvre et le chou = to be nice with two different/opposite parties to remain in good terms with both (lit.: to deal carefully with the goat and the cabbage).

Une truie n'y retrouverait pas ses petits = an expression used when a room or a place is a total mess. Lit.: A sow wouldn't be able to find its young ones. Ex.: Jean, tu ranges ta chambre ! Une truie n'y retrouverait pas ses petits ! = Jean, please clean your room! It's a total mess!

Un poulet = a cop.

Une poule mouillée = a wimp.

Quand les poules auront des dents = When pigs can fly - something that is very unlikely to happen.

Poser un lapin = to stand someone up (lit.: to lay a rabbit). Elle devait venir dîner ce soir, mais elle m'a posé un lapin = She was supposed to come for dinner tonight, but she stood me up.

3) OISEAUX :

Être fier comme un paon = To be proud as a peacock (easy, as it is exactly the same as in English!). A similar expression is: être fier comme un coq (a rooster). Obviously, using it while talking of people is quite pejorative. Ex.: Tu as vu ce mec ? Il est fier comme un paon depuis qu'il a sa nouvelle bagnole. = Did you see this guy? He's proud as peacock since he got his new car.

Être gai comme un pinson = To be happy as a lark, to be happy as Larry, to be very joyful. Lit.: to be joyful as a chaffinch. This expression is much more positive than the previous one. Ex.: Je ne sais pas ce qui s'est passé avec mon fils, il est gai comme un pinson en ce moment ! = I don't know what happened with my son, he's as happy as a lark these days!

Être bavard comme une pie = To be talkative, to be chatty (meaning: too much). Ex.: Ouf ! Je suis arrivé à éviter la voisine ! Avec elle on n'en a jamais fini, elle est bavarde comme une pie. = Phew! I managed to avoid the neighbor! With her we're never finished, she is so talkative.

Battre de l'aile= To be on its last legs, to go to the dogs, to be breaking down. Lit.: To flap one's wings. Ex.: J'ai démissionné parce que l'entreprise de mon patron battait de l'aile. = I resigned because my boss's business was going downhill.

Avoir une prise de bec avec quelqu'un = To have an argument, a quarrel, a spat, with someone. Lit.: To have a beak grip with someone. Ex.: Quand ma mère vient chez nous pendant plusieurs jours, elle a souvent une prise de bec avec ma femme. = When my mother comes to our place for several days, she often has a spat with my wife.

Faire le pied de grue = to hang about, to cool one's heels. Lit.: to do like the feet of a crane. Ex. : J'en ai marre de faire le pied de grue devant tous les magasins, cette femme se moque de moi ! = I am fed up with hanging around in front of the shops, this woman is making a fool of me!


4) ANIMAUX SAUVAGES, SERPENTS, POISSONS... :

Prendre le taureau par les cornes  = to have the courage to finally do something that has been necessary for some time (lit.: to take the bull by the horns). Cela fait trop longtemps que je voulais ranger le grenier. J'ai pris le taureau par les cornes et maintenant c'est fait ! = I have wanted to straighten up the attic for too long. I finally took the bull by the horns, and now it's done!

Avoir mangé du lion = to have incredible energy (lit.: to have eaten some lion's meat).

Il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l'ours avant de l'avoir tué = don't count your chickens before they hatch. Lit.: One must not sell the skin of the bear before one has killed it.

Un drôle de zèbre = a strange fellow.

Pleurer des larmes de crocodile = to pretend to be very sad, in the hope of obtaining what we wish. Lit.: To cry crocodile tears. Ex.: Quand ma fille veut aller au manège, elle pleure des larmes de crocodile = When my daughter wants to go on the merry-go-round, she cries crocodile tears.

Faire une queue de poisson = to cut in front of another car (on a road). Lit.: to fishtail. Ex.: Cette voiture n'arrête pas de faire des queues de poisson, c'est dangereux ! = That car doesn't stop cutting in. That is dangerous!

Noyer le poisson = to confuse the issue. Lit.: to drown the fish.

Se faire engueuler comme du poisson pourri = to be given a roasting, to get badly bawled out. Lit.: to be told off like rotten fish. Another expression which has almost the same meaning is: Prendre un savon. Lit.: To get a soap...

C'est le serpent qui se mord la queue = This is a vicious circle, a problem that cannot be solved, therefore, one has the impression of going round in circles without progressing. Lit.: This is a snake that bites its own tail.

Avaler des couleuvres = two possibilities: to swallow one's pride; to believe anything you are told. Lit.: to swallow grass snakes.


5) ANIMAUX EN GENERAL :

Reprendre du poil de la bête = To regain one's strength, to feel much better after having been sick or depressed. Lit.: to get back again one's animal hair. Ex.: C'est super, je vois que tu reprends du poil de la bête après cette mauvaise grippe ! = That's great, I see you've gotten back on your feet after that bad flu!

6) LES ANIMAUX DES FABLES : NEW

Être rusé comme un renard = To be wily/sly as a fox. This expression is therefore exactly the same in English. It demonstrates that a fox is generally considered a very smart animal. However, it is not the case in the fable Le Renard et la Cigogne (The Fox and the Stork)... Ex.: Méfie-toi du patron, il est rusé comme un renard. = Beware the boss, he's wily as a fox.

Être ravitaillé par les corbeaux = This expression applies to a remote place, where nothing interesting happens. Lit.: To be supplied by crows. Ex.: Je ne veux pas habiter dans ce village ravitaillé par les corbeaux ! = I don't want to live in this remote village!

Un travail de fourmi = A long, painstaking and meticulous task, needing patience, that usually turns out to be a success, like in La Cigale et la Fourmi. Lit.: An ant's work. Ex.: Préparer des cadeaux personnalisés pour chaque employé est un travail de fourmi, mais ça leur fait très plaisir. = Preparing personalized gifts for every employee is a painstaking work, but it makes them very happy.

Avoir mangé du lion = To have incredible energy. Lit.: To have eaten lion meat. Ex.: Tu as mangé du lion ? Je n'ai jamais vu ta chambre aussi propre ! = You are so energetic! I've never seen your room so clean! Note that in most fables, La Fontaine demonstrates a sort of affection towards lions, who are more often victims than predators, and can even, like in Le Lion et le Rat, be very humane.

Noyer le poisson = To cloud/to evade the issue. Lit.: To drown the fish. In most fables, the fish is another smart animal, like in Le petit Poisson et le Pêcheur (The Little Fish and the Fisherman). Note that its first sentence has become a proverb: Petit poisson deviendra grand. = Mighty/Tall oaks from little acorns grow.

 

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Expressions inspirées des insectes

Avoir une araignée au plafond = to be a little crazy, but not a bad person.

Tisser sa toile = to spin a web; originally for a spider, but now it means to network, to make a lot of links/contacs.

Être une fine mouche = to be a very clever person.

Faire mouche = to reach one's target or goal.

La mouche du coche = a very annoying person, who always impedes other's efforts; the back-seat driver is a possible translation. This expression comes from a famous fable of La Fontaine : Le coche et la mouche (= The Stagecoach and the Fly).

Prendre la mouche = to fly (no pun intended) off the handle.

On entendrait une mouche voler = you could hear a pin drop.

Quelle mouche l'a piqué ? = what's got into her/him? What's her/his problem?

Regarder voler les mouches = to stare into space.

Des pattes de mouche = very fine squiggles, scrawls.

Tomber comme des mouches = originally meant: to drop like flies, for many victims to fall all at once, like on a battlefield, for example; but nowadays it is mainly used when many people say yes to, or are seduced by someone; ex.: Je ne sais pas comment il fait, avec lui les filles tombent comme des mouches ! = I don't know how he does it, with him the girls cannot resist.

Ne pas faire de mal à une mouche = to be very gentle, harmless.

Minute papillon ! = wait a minut! Or: hold on, I don't necessary agree!

Pas folle, la guêpe = She/He is not so stupid.

Avoir une taille de guêpe = to be very thin. Lit. to have the waist of a wasp. To have an hourglass figure.

Avoir des fourmis dans les jambes = to have pins & needles in your legs; fourmi = ant.

Un travail de fourmi, travailler comme une fourmi = painstaking work, to work hard and nonstop.

Se faire plus petit qu'une fourmi = to be able to remain very discrete, almost invisible.

Avoir le cafard, avoir le bourdon = to be down, to have the blues; cafard = cockroach.

Être à un saut de puce = to be very close by ( puce = flea); ex.: Tu peux venir chez moi, ma maison est à un saut de puce de chez toi ! = You can come to my place, my house is very close to yours!

Secouer les puces = To shake out the chips.

Mettre la puce à l'oreille = to give someone something to think about.

Un sac à puces = a cute expression used when talking about a dog; a fleabag.

Être fier comme un pou = to be very proud, a bit haughty.

Être laid comme un pou = to be ugly.

Ce n'est pas piqué des hannetons, ce n'est pas piqué des vers ! = this comes as a real surprise, this is something!; hanneton = cockchafer/June bug.

Tirer les vers du nez = to get the truth out of someone, especially a person who is reluctant to speak.

Chercher la petite bête = to nitpick.


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Expressions utilisant des fruits ou légumes

1) LES FRUITS :

Tomber dans les pommes = to faint.

Etre haut comme trois pommes = to be very short.

Être une vraie pomme = to be very naïve and always agree to do things that other people could easily do.

Ça va être pour ma pomme = It will be for me/I'll have to do it. Ex.: Personne n'a accepté de travailler le week-end du 14 juillet, ça va encore être pour ma pomme ! = Nobody has agreed to work during the Bastille Day weekend, I'll have to do it again! (lit.: It will be for my apple).

Poire = face, mug. Il a une bonne poire = He as a pleasant look.

Etre une poire = to be a sucker.

Se fendre la pêche = to laugh a lot (lit.: to split one's peach).

Se prendre une pêche = to hurt oneself (electrical accident, for example).

Se prendre une pêche en pleine poire = to be punched in the face.

Se prendre une châtaigne/marron = idem.

Se prendre une prune = to receive a fine, a parking ticket.

Compter pour des prunes = to be left aside, to count for nothing.

Semer des peaux de bananes = to create difficulties or obstacles for others.

Avoir la banane, avoir la pêche (see : avoir la patate ) = to be in an excellent form, to cross a very positive period.

Presser quelqu'un comme un citron = to ask too much (work, usually) of someone.

Une fraise = as well as the fruit, it can also mean a bit for a router.

Ramener sa fraise = to speak/to intervene in a discussion when one is not invited/supposed to so.

Sucrer les fraises = to have the shakes, to shiver (literally: to sugar the strawberries).

A la noix = crummy, lousy.

Ne pas valoir une cacahuète (peanut) = to be worth nothing.

Avoir les yeux en amande = to have slanted, oriental eyes of a person from an Asian country.

2) LE CHOU :

Chou = darling.

Mon (petit) chou = somewhat outdated expression for "My dear/darling".

C'est un chou = he's a darling.

C'est chou = it's cute.

Un petit bout de chou = a term of endearment for a child.

Etre bête comme chou = to be really stupid.

Il n'a rien dans le chou = he has no brains, nothing on top.

Une feuille de chou = a very basic and short newsletter or newspaper.

Avoir une tête de chou = to have very wide ears (lit.: to have the head of a cabbage).

Avoir les oreilles en chou-fleur = to have cauliflower ears.

Avoir les oreilles en feuilles de chou = to have large ears.

Faire chou blanc = to draw a blank.

Un chouchou = a) a coloured flexible band used to put one's hair in a pony tail. b) the teacher's (or the boss's) pet.

3) AUTRES LEGUMES:

Une grosse légume (note that in this expression the word légume is feminine, whereas it is usually masculine) = someone very important, a VIP.

Avoir de l'oseille = to have money, to be rich (lit.: to have sorrel).

Avoir du blé = idem: to have (lots of) money.

Je n'ai pas un radis = I don't have a cent (penny), I'm flat broke.

Les carottes sont cuites = the dice have been rolled, one cannot do anything to save a situation… (lit.: the carrots are cooked).

Marcher à la carotte = to do something only if there is any kind of reward to spur one on (referring to the donkey who accepts to walk only if he is enticed to by a carrot).

C'est la fin des haricots = almost the same as above, it announces the end of a hope.

Travailler pour des haricots = to work for nothing.

Mettre du beurre dans les épinards = to bring in extra revenue which comes as a relief.

Avoir la patate (potato - see : avoir la banane, avoir la pêche ) = to be in an excellent form, to cross a very positive period.

En avoir gros sur la patate = to be very sad.

Chanter comme une patate = to sing very badly.

Avoir un cœur d'artichaut = to be very sensitive and fall in love easily.

Avoir un pois chiche dans la tête = to be totally stupid (lit.: to have a chickpea in the head).

Avoir un petit pois à la place du cerveau = idem.

Un navet = a poor (terrible) film or play.

Faire le poireau = to hang around waiting, to bide one's time.

Une grande asperge = to be skinny as a bean pole.

Rouge comme une tomate = red like a tomato.

Occupe-toi de tes oignons ! = mind your own business!

Marcher en rang d'oignons = to march in straight rows, following each other (lit.: to walk in onion rows).

Etre soigné aux petits oignons = to be very well taken care of by someone when one is sick (literally: to be cared for with little onions).

Raconter des salades = to tell lies.

Le panier à salade = the police car (the one that looks like a van used to transport prisoners).

Avoir la tête comme une citrouille = to be somewhat dizzy from thinking too much.

Espèce de patate ! = stupid you! Chanter comme une patate = to sing very badly.

Espèce de cornichon (pickle) ! = idem.

Espèce de courge (squash) ! = idem.

Tu n'as rien dans la citrouille (pumpkin) ! = You're stupid!

En avoir gros sur la patate (potato) = to be very sad.

Pousser sur le champignon = to exaggerate.

Appuyer sur le champignon = to drive too fast (to stomp down on the accelerator).

Prendre de la graine = to learn from experience.

Le panier à salade = the police car (the one that looks like a van used to transport prisoners).

 


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Expressions inspirées de la cuisine

1) LES OEUFS ET PRODUITS LAITIERS:

Marcher sur des œufs = to be extremely cautious when dealing with something/someone (lit.: to walk on eggs).

Ne pas mettre tous les œufs dans le même panier = not to put every hope/money on a single project (lit.: not to put all your eggs in the same basket).

On ne fait pas d'omelette sans casser des œufs = one doesn't do anything without making a little sacrifice (lit.: one doesn't make an omelet without breaking eggs).

Etre soupe au lait = to change your mood frequently (lit.: to be a soup with milk).

Boire du petit lait = to appreciate plainly a positive situation (lit.: drink whey).

Faire son beurre = to make good money (lit.: to make one's butter). On ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l'argent du beurre = you can't have your cake and eat it.

Etre une vraie crème = to be a lovely and easygoing person.

En faire tout un fromage = to make a big fuss over something not important/much ado about nothing (lit.: to do a whole cheese).

2) SEL, SUCRE, FARINE... :

Donner du grain à moudre = to give someone something to think about, something to chew over (lit.: to give grain to be ground.

Rouler quelqu'un dans la farine = to rip off/to cheat/to hustle someone (lit.: to roll someone in flour).

Etre dans le pétrin = to find oneself in a very difficult situation from which it is not easy to get out (lit.: to be in the dough kneeding trough).

Ecrire des tartines = to write a lot (lit.: to write slices of bread).

Etre une nouille = to be stupid (lit.: to be a noodle).

Vivre comme un coq en pâte = to be sitting on top of the world (lit.: to live like a rooster in pastry).

Ajouter son grain de sel = to add one's own opinion to a discussion (lit.: to add one's grain of salt).

Casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu'un = to tell negative things about someone (lit.: to break sugar on the back of someone).

Etre tout sucre (tout miel) avec quelqu'un = to be very nice (a little too much even) to someone (lit.: to be all sugar - or all honey - with someone).

Prendre de la brioche = to get fat, big.

3) PATISSERIES, SUCRERIES, DESSERTS...

C'est du gâteau= That's (It's) a piece of cake, it's very easy. Ex.: Mon nouveau travail est vraiment facile, c'est du gâteau ! = My new job is very easy, it's a piece of cake! The contrary, meaning that something is not easy, is : C'est pas de la tarte ! (It's no picnic! - lit.: It's not a pie!)

Une mamy gâteau = a grandmother who loves her grandchildren so much that she spoils them.(lit.: a cake grandma)This can apply to other members of the family: une maman gâteau, un papa gâteau, un papy gâteau, etc.)

Demander/réclamer sa part du gâteau =  to request one's due, what is owed after having contributed to a project. Ex.: J'ai passé des heures à essayer de convaincre le client de louer son appart, maintenant je veux ma part du gâteau ! = I spent hours trying to convince the client to rent his flat, now I want my part!

C'est la cerise sur le gâteau = It is the icing on the cake, the little plus on something already positive... Lit.: It is the cherry on the cake.

Ça coûte bonbon= It costs an arm and a leg, it is expensive. Lit.: It costs candy. Ex.: Tu as vu le prix de ces bottes ? Elles coûtent bonbon ! = Have you seen the price of these boots? They cost an arm and a leg!

Je suis chocolat = I have been had, duped.

Être une vraie crème= to be a lovely and easygoing person. Lit.: To be a real cream.

C'est du flan ton histoire ! = What you are saying is all show! When you associate something with custard, it simply means that you don't believe for one single second what someone has told you.

4) PAIN :

Avoir du pain sur la planche = To have a lot on one's plate, to be very busy. Lit.: To have bread on the board. Ex.: Je n'ai même pas le temps d'aller au cinéma ce soir, j'ai vraiment trop de pain sur la planche ! = I don't even have time to go to the movies tonight, I definitely have too much on my plate!

Un gagne-pain = A livelihood, a way of making a living. Lit.: A bread earning. Ex.: Mon mari n'aime pas beaucoup son travail mais c'est notre gagne-pain ! = My husband doesn't like his job very much, but it's our way of making a living!

Ça ne mange pas de pain = It can't hurt, it can't do any harm. Lit.: That doesn't eat bread. Ex.: Tu ne sais même pas combien ça va te coûter ? Tu peux toujours poser la question, ça ne mange pas de pain ! = You don't even know how much it will cost you? You can always ask the question, it can't do any harm!

Retirer/Enlever/Ôter le pain de la bouche à quelqu'un = To take away someone's livelihood, to deprive someone of something necessary. Lit.: To take the bread out of someone's mouth. Ex.: C'est incroyable, ce nouveau coiffeur qui s'est installé juste à côté de mon salon me fait de la concurrence directe. C'est comme s'il voulait me retirer le pain de la bouche ! = It's unbelievable, this new hairdresser who opened his salon right next to my salon competes directly with me. It is as though he wanted to take away my livelihood!

Long comme un jour sans pain = As long as a month of Sundays, something that seems very long and boring. Lit.: As long as a day without bread. Ex.: Mon nouveau collègue est tellement ennuyeux ! Chaque discussion avec lui me paraît longue comme un jour sans pain. = My new colleague is so boring! Each discussion with him seems as long as a month of Sundays.

Ne pas manger de ce pain-là = To refuse to do something unpleasant. Lit.: Not to eat this bread. It's a little bit like "Let's not go there," or "I don't want to go there." Ex.: Quand elle m'a demandé de lui prêter dix mille euros, je lui ai répondu que je ne voulais pas manger de ce pain-là. = When she asked me to lend her ten thousand euros, I told her that I didn't want to go there.

Pour une bouchée de pain = For next to nothing. Lit.: For a bite/mouthful of bread. Ex.: Je suis vraiment contente, pendant les soldes j'ai pu avoir cette paire de chaussures pour une bouchée de pain ! = I'm very happy, during the sales I could get this pair of shoes for next to nothing!

Gagner sa croûte = To earn a living by working hard. Lit.: To earn one's crust. Lit. Il est temps que mon fils gagne sa croûte, il devient paresseux ! = It's about time that my son earns his living, he's getting lazy!

Casser la croûte = To eat, to grab a snack, to have a bite (familiar). Lit.: To break the crust. Ex.: J'ai vraiment faim. Si on allait casser la croûte ? = I'm really hungry. What about going to get something to eat (grabbing a bite to eat)?

Avoir du blé = To have lots of money, to have a well-stocked bank account... Lit.: To have wheat. This old popular way of talking about money by reference to wheat, a demonstration of wealth, is still used, especially in some provinces, but sometimes in a pejorative way. When you talk about someone "qui a du blé," it doesn't always have the best of connotations. Ex.: Ne t'inquiète pas pour lui, il a du blé ! = Don't worry about him, he's got lots of money.

Être dans le pétrin = To be in a real mess, to have serious problems that might be very difficult to resolve. Lit.: To be in the dough kneading trough. This popular expression is often used between friends. Ex.: Tu sais ce qui m'arrive ? Ma femme a découvert mes échanges de sms avec Lydia. Là, je suis dans le pétrin ! = You know what's happening to me? My wife found out about my exchange of text messages with Lydia. I'm in real trouble!

Se faire rouler dans la farine = To be taken for a ride, to be/get ripped off, to be cheated. Lit.: To be rolled in flour. A shorter expression is: Se faire rouler. Ex.: J'ai lu le contrat trop vite, et je me suis fait rouler dans la farine. = I read the contract too quickly, and I've been ripped off! The picture on the left with a flour bag is an add from Monoprix: "You won't be ripped off." The fish is a reminder of April Fool's jokes.

S'en payer une bonne tranche = To have a lot of fun, to have a great time. Lit.: To buy for oneself a good slice (of bread, of course). Ex.: On a passé de super vacances avec les potes, on s'en est payé une bonne tranche ! = We had a really great vacation with the buddies, we had a lot of fun! Of course, here this vey commonly used expression refers to the past. Since the pandemic, it's not so very topical...

Se vendre comme des petits pains = To sell like hot cakes, to be snapped up. Lit.: To sell like little breads. Variations of this very frequently used expression are: partir/s'enlever comme des petits pains. Ex.: Plus que jamais, les masques partent comme des petits pains ! = More than ever, face masks are snapped up!

5) FAIRE LA CUISINE :

La cuisine électorale = all the behind-the-scenes manipulations and shady deals of politicians at election time.

Rajouter de la sauce/allonger la sauce = to exaggerate considerably (lit.: to add some sauce/adding more liquid to a sauce).

Mettre quelqu'un à toutes les sauces = to pile on jobs and/or responsibilities.

Jeter de l'huile sur le feu = to make matters worse (lit.: to pour oil on the fire).

Faire noir comme dans un four = It's pitch black; y ou can't see anything (lit.: it's as black as in an oven).

Etre sur le gril = to be on the hot seat.

Etre grillé/Se faire griller = to be discredited, to have blown everything.

Etre cuit = to be drunk or to be all washed up.

C'est du tout cuit = it's a sure thing, it's in the bag.

Etre dur à cuire = said about someone who is not easily discouraged, very resistant in the face of difficulty.

Mijoter = to cook up (lit.: to simmer). Qu'est-ce qu'il mijote ? = What's he cooking up, plotting?

Chanter comme une casserole = to sing off key (lit.: to sing like a pot).

Faire un bruit de casserole = to sound like a pile of junk (lit.: to make a noise like a pot) . Cette vieille bagnole fait un bruit de casserole = This old jalopy sounds like a pile of junk, a tin can.

Passer à la casserole = to get to the pots and pans… an expression used by women who reluctantly and unenthusiastically allow their husbands to make love to them. It's a drudgery.

6) A TABLE:

Se mettre à table = to sit down at the dinner table.

Mettre les pieds dans le plat = to put your foot in your mouth (lit.: to put one's feet in the plate).

Mettre les petits plats dans les grands = to put on a big spread (lit.: to put the small dishes in the larger one).

Faire tout un plat de quelque chose = to make a big deal out of something (lit.: to make an entire dish out of something). Il a raté son permis de conduire, il en a fait tout un plat ! = He failed his driving licence exam and he made a big deal/fuss about it.

Dans son assiette = to be out of sorts. Il n'est pas dans son assiette aujourd'hui ! He's not in great form today!

Avoir un bon coup de fourchette = to be a good eater.

Tomber comme un cheveu sur la soupe = to come like a bolt out of the blue (lit.: to fall like a hair into the soup).

7) EXPRESSIONS AVEC LE VERBE "MANGER" :

Ça ne mange pas de pain = It can't hurt/it can't do any harm (to do/to try something). Lit.: It doesn't eat bread. Ex.: Tu crois que cette expo est nulle ? On peut toujours aller y jeter un coup d'œil, ça ne mange pas de pain ! = You think that this exhibit is bad/crap? We can still go have a look, it can't hurt!

Je ne mange pas de ce pain-là = I'm not into that: I won't agree to do an illegal/immoral action. Lit.: Not to eat that type of bread. Ex.: Mon patron m'a demandé de faire des commentaires positifs sur internet comme si j'étais un client. Mais j'ai refusé : je ne mange pas de ce pain-là. = My boss asked me to write positive reviews on the web as if I were a client. But I have refused: I'm not into that.

Manger à l'œil = To eat for free (synonym: manger gratis). Lit.: To eat with the eye. Ex.: Nathalie, quand elle peut manger à l'œil, elle ne se prive pas ! Tu l'as vue se jeter sur le buffet ? = Nathalie, when she can eat for free, she doesn't hold back! Did you see how she rushed to the buffet?

Il y a à boire et à manger = There is good and bad (in something, an action, a project, etc). Lit.: There is something to drink and to eat. Ex.: Le projet que m'a soumis mon employé n'est pas vraiment ce que j'attendais, il y a à boire et à manger là-dedans. = The project that my employee gave me is not exactly what I was expecting, there is good and bad in it.

Manger avec un lance-pierre = To eat very fast, to grab a quick bite. Lit.: To eat with a slingshot. Ex.: Depuis que Marc est à l'université, il a pris de mauvaises habitudes : maintenant il mange toujours avec un lance-pierres au lieu de faire de vrais repas ! = Since Marc started college, he has acquired some bad habits: now he always grabs a quick bite instead of eating full meals!

8) DIVERS :

Etre à ramasser à la petite cuillère = to be totally exhausted (lit.: to be in a condition that you could be scooped up with a teaspoon).

Ne pas y aller avec le dos de la cuillère = Not to beat around the bush, to get right to the point (lit.: not to go at it with the back of the spoon).

Régler une affaire en deux coups de cuillère à pot = to settle something very quickly (lit.: to settle an affair in two blows of a large cooking spoon).

Tourner autour du pot = to beat around the bush (lit.: to circle around the pot).

A la fortune du pot (the luck of the pot) = a pot luck meal where everyone brings a dish.

Crever de faim/soif = to be dying of hunger/thirst. Je crève de faim. Quand va-t-on manger ? = I am dying of hunger. When are we going to eat?

Avoir la fringale = to be famished, totally hungry, to bonk because you ran out of energy.

Etre une tête de lard = to be stubborn (lit.: to be a head of pig fat).

Avoir l'eau à la bouche = to feel hungry (lit.: to have water/saliva in one's mouth).

Rester en carafe = to be left behind, forgotten (lit.: to stay in the carafe).

Mettre de l'eau dans son vin = to become more moderate (lit.: to put water in one's wine).

Prendre de la bouteille = to become richer with knowledge and experience.

Cuit = normally the word cuit means "cooked", but in a slang sense it can mean to be done for or all washed up. It can also mean "sloshed" or "drunk." Il est complètement cuit = He really sloshed, pissed.

Une cuite = related to the above. Il a pris une sacrée cuite = He really got plastered.


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Expressions utilisant le vocabulaire du corps humain

1) LA TETE ET LES CHEVEUX :

Ça (ne) va pas la tête ? = are you crazy? (Ça va pas, non ?).

Tu es tombé sur la tête ? = are you nuts, crazy?

Avoir la tête dans les nuages = to be distracted.

Avoir la grosse tête = to be full of oneself.

Avoir une idée derrière la tête = to have an ulterior motive.

Avoir la tête sur les épaules = to have one's head on one's shoulders.

Attaquer/Foncer bille en tête = To blindly push on, to bulldoze ahead, to be audacious in starting something but also without thinking too much about it. Ex.: On avait à peine décidé de créer un atelier d'artisanat qu'il a foncé bille en tête. = We had barely decided to organize a handicraft workshop when he blindly pushed on (lit.: To attack/to rush at with a marble at the head).

C'est tiré par les cheveux = It is far-fetched. Ex.: Quand mon mari m'explique pourquoi il rentre tard parfois le soir, c'est toujours un peu tiré par les cheveux. = When my husband explains to me why he sometimes gets home late in the evening, it is always a little far-fetched (lit.: It is pulled by the hair).

Se faire des cheveux blancs = To worry. (lit.: To make one's hair turn white).

2) LA GUEULE:
(literally the mouth or jaw of an animal, but it is often used for humans in a somewhat derogatory manner)

Il a une sale gueule = I don't like his looks.

Ferme ta gueule ! = shut your trap!

Se saouler la gueule = to get really pissed (syn.: prendre une cuite).

Avoir la gueule de bois = to have a hangover.

Casser la gueule à quelqu'un = to smash someone's face.

Faire la gueule = to be in a bad mood.

3) L'OEIL :

Mon œil ! = my eye! I don't believe you!

Jeter un coup d'œil = to glance at.

Je n'ai pas fermé l'œil de la nuit = I didn't sleep at all .

Avoir un œil au beurre noir = to have a black eye.

Il me fait de l'œil = he is interested in me; and gave me one of those looks.

Obéir au doigt et à l'œil = to obey the letter of the law.

Jeter de la poudre aux yeux = to show off.

Avoir le compas dans l'œil = to have a knack for measurements.

Coûter les yeux de la tête, coûter la peau des fesses = to cost an arm and a leg. Ex.: Tu ne vas pas acheter cette nouvelle télé ? Elle coûte les yeux de la tête/la peau des fesses ! = You aren't going to buy this new TV? It costs an arm and a leg!

En prendre plein les yeux = to have stars in your eyes.

Ne pas avoir froid aux yeux = To be afraid of nothing or nobody, not to hesitate doing something dangerous (lit.: Not to have cold eyes).

4) L'OREILLE

Avoir le sourire jusqu'aux oreilles = to grin from ear to ear.

Prêter l'oreille = to lend an ear.

Faire la sourde oreille = to lend a deaf ear.

Tirer l'oreille à quelqu'un = to pull someone's ear.Ex.: Attention, si tu continues à me mentir, je vais te tirer l'oreille ! = Be careful, if you continue to lie to me, I'll pull your ear!

Avoir les oreilles qui sifflent = To think/to assume that someone is saying something bad or negative about you in your absence (lit.: To have ears that whistle). In English, one often says that one's ears must be burning when you are talking about someone else.

Dormir sur ses deux oreilles = to sleep soundly without any worry (lit.: To sleep on one's two ears).

5) LE NEZ :

Mener quelqu'un par le bout du nez = to lead someone around by their nose.

Fermer la porte au nez de quelqu'un = to shut the door in someone's face.

Se trouver nez à nez avec quelqu'un = to be face to face with someone.

Avoir du nez = to have good instincts.

Montrer le bout de son nez = to peek out.

Se casser le nez = to go some place without achieving the desired result.

Gagner les doigts dans le nez = to succeed without hardly trying.

A vue de nez = approximately.

La moutarde me monte au nez = I'm beginning to be irritated, upset.

Avoir quelqu'un dans le nez = Ex. : To dislike somebody (lit.: To have somebody in your nose).

Avoir un verre dans le nez = to be slightly drunk.

Ne pas voir plus loin que le bout de son nez = to see no further than one's nose, to lack a global perspective.

Claquer la porte au nez de quelqu'un = to slam the door in one's face, to dismiss someone.

Passer sous le nez de quelqu'un = to fail to achieve something that you felt was a sure thing. Ex.: Ce contrat m'est passé sous le nez.

Tirer les vers du nez à quelqu'un = to make someone talk freely (lit. to pull worms out of someone's nose).

Se bouffer le nez = to be at each other's throats. Bouffer = to eat (fam.)

Mettre le nez dans les affaires des autres = to poke your nose into someone else's business.

6) LES DENTS :

Accepter du bout des dents = to accept something reluctantly.

Avoir la dent = to be hungry.

Avoir la dent dure = to be very severe.

Avoir les dents longues = to be very ambitious.

Avoir, garder une dent contre quelqu'un = to hold (keep) a grudge against someone.

Claquer des dents = to be cold, shivering.

Être armé jusqu'aux dents = to be armed to the teeth.

Être sur les dents = to have too much to do, overextended.

Grincer des dents = to gnash one's teeth, to express one's displeasure.

N'avoir rien à se mettre sous la dent = to have nothing to eat.

Se casser les dents sur quelque chose = to fail because of a particular difficulty.

Serrer les dents = to grit one's teeth.

7) LA LANGUE, LA BOUCHE, LA GORGE :

Avoir avalé sa langue = to remain silent when questioned about something.

Avoir la langue bien pendue = to be a chatterbox.

Avoir perdu sa langue = to persist in remaining silent.

Avoir un mot sur le bout de la langue = to have a word or expression on the tip of your tongue.

Délier la langue de quelqu'un = to make someone speak.

Donner sa langue au chat = to admit that you can't find the answer, to remain silent.

Être une méchante, une mauvaise langue = to criticize or malign someone readily.

Être une langue de vipère = to speak ill of someone.

Ne pas avoir la langue dans sa poche = to be very verbal, to be able to come back with an appropriate retort.

Ne pas savoir tenir sa langue = to be unable to hold one's tongue when it would be appropriate to do so.

Se mordre la langue = to hold one's tongue, or to regret having said something.

Tenir/retenir sa langue = to hold one's tongue because of discretion or prudence.

Tirer la langue = to be thirsty or in need of something and not being able to find satisfaction.

Tourner sept fois sa langue dans sa bouche = to think long and hard before responding.

Enlever le pain de la bouche = to deprive someone of their livelihood.

Avoir un chat dans la gorge, avoir un crapaud dans la gorge = to have a frog in your throat.

8) LA MAIN ET LES DOIGTS :

Donner un coup de main = to lend a hand.

Mettre la main à la pâte = to get involved.

Travailler la main dans la main = to work hand in hand.

J'en mettrais ma main au feu = I'd stake my life on it.

Etre pris la main dans le sac = to get caught red handed.

Avoir le cœur sur la main = to be very generous .

Clefs en mains = ready to use.

S'en laver les mains = to wash one's hands of something, to become disinterested in.

Réussir haut la main = to succeed without really trying.

Remettre en mains propres = to return to the rightful owner or person involved.

Avoir la main baladeuse = to be touchy/feely, often in an offensive way.

Une chose m'est tombée sous la main = I found something by chance.

Ce livre m'est tombé des mains = when a book is not very interesting, you let it drop.

Avoir des doigts de fée = to be dexterous (lit.: To have hands like a fairy).

9) LA JAMBE :

Avoir les jambes en coton = one's legs feel like jelly.

Ça me fait une belle jambe = I don't give a damn about that.

10) LE PIED ET LES CHAUSSURES :

Un pied-à-terre = a temporary or secondary housing.

Garder les pieds sur terre = to keep your feet on the ground, to remain realistic.

Casser les pieds de quelqu'un = to bother, irritate someone.

Se casser les pieds = to go to a lot of trouble.

Un casse-pieds = someone who gets on your nerves. Ex.: Il me casse les pieds, celui-là ! = He gets on my nerves, this guy!

Faire du pied (genou) à quelqu'un = to play footsy with someone.

Prendre son pied = to get a kick out of something.

C'est le pied ! = that's really great, wonderful.

Tu m'as enlevé une sacrée épine du pied ! = you got me out of a sticky/difficult situation !

Faire des pieds et des mains = to move heaven and earth to accomplish something.

Prendre au pied de la lettre = to follow the letter of the law.

Se jeter aux pieds de quelqu'un = to beg someone on your knees.

Être bête comme ses pieds = to be very stupid, as thick as a brick, as dumb as they come.

Ne pas savoir sur quel pied danser = Not to know what to do (lit.: Not to know on which foot to dance.)

Avoir un fil à la patte = To be tied down. This expression is mainly used to talk about marriage. Ex.: Alors ça y est, tu vas avoir le fil à la patte ! C'est pour quand le mariage ? = So that's it, you are going to be tied down! When will the wedding take place? (lit.: To have a thread on one's leg" - patte is a familiar way to say jambe).

Avoir les chevilles qui enflent = To be very full of oneself (lit.: To have one's ankles swell up).

Etre bien dans ses baskets = to feel good about one's self. Ex.: Même en étant un étranger en France, je me sens très bien dans mes baskets ! = Even if I am a foreigner in France, I feel good about myself!

11) LE POIL:
(literally: body hair on a human or an animal)

Etre de bon (mauvais) poil = to be in a good (bad) mood.

À poil = stark naked.

Au poil = perfect, great. Ex.: Ça me va au poil ! = It's perfect for me!

Il n'a pas un poil de bon sens = he hasn't one iota of good sense.

Avoir un poil dans la main = to be very lazy, idle.

12) LE COEUR ET LES VEINES :

Vouloir en avoir le cœur net = to want to know the truth. Ex.: Il a compris que sa femme le trompait. Comme il voulait en avoir le cœur net, il l'a suivie un soir… = He understood that his wife was cheating him. As he wanted to know the truth, he followed her one evening...

Avoir un cœur de pierre = to be cold hearted.

Avoir du cœur au ventre = to be highly motivated.

Avoir de la veine, être veinard(e) = to be very lucky. Lit. : to have good veins.

13) AUTRES PARTIES DU CORPS :

Être dos au mur = to have your back to the wall.

Faire le dos rond = to let it wash over you, to grin and bear it. Ex.: Quand mon patron s'énerve, je fais le dos rond et j'attends qu'il se calme . = When my boss gets mad at me, I let it wash over me and I wait for him to calm down (lit.: To put one's back on a rounded position).

Avoir l'estomac dans les talons = to be famished.

Y laisser sa peau = to die, to kick the bucket; to end up fatally flawed by the experience. Ex.: Mais arrête de faire le travail de deux personnes, tu va y laisser ta peau ! = But stop working for two, you will kill yourself!

Ne pas faire de vieux os = to die young. Lit. : not to make old bones.Ex.: Il ne fera pas de vieux os s'il continue à travailler comme ça ! = He will die young if he continues working as he does!

Avoir le cul entre deux chaises = To be caught between two stools. Ex.: J'ai le cul entre deux chaises : d'un côté je veux bien faire plaisir à ma mère et passer les vacances avec elle, mais d'un autre côté j'ai promis à mon copain de partir avec lui. = I am caught between two stools: On one hand, I would like to please my mother and spend the holidays with her, but on the other hand I promised my boyfriend I'd go with him (lit.: To have one's ass between two chairs).

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Le langage de l'amour, des sentiments, et des relations sexuelles

1) RENCONTRES ET DECLARATIONS D'AMOUR

Kiffer = to love, an slang expression mainly used by teenagers and young men and women from low-income housing developments or neighbourhoods. Je te kiffe mortel = I am wild about you.

Draguer = to try and pick someone up; un dragueur = a womanizer; someone who tries a little too often, with too many people, for whom draguer has almost become a game but who is not serious about a relationship; more and more used also when talking about a woman: une dragueuse .

Faire du gringue = to try to seduce someone.

Faire les yeux doux = idem; but more romantic.

Dire des mots doux = to whisper sweet nothings to someone.

Roucouler = used for young people who linger in each other's arms, whispering expressions of love (lit.: to coo). Old-fashioned today.

En pincer pour quelqu'un = to be very attracted by someone (lit.: "to pinch" for someone…).

Faire une touche = to have someone suddenly be attracted to you; when someone falls for you. Ex.: Tu n'as pas vu comme elle t'a regardé, cette femme ? Mon pote, t'as fait une touche. = You didn't see how this woman looked at you? Buddy, you have it made with her.

Avoir un ticket = to understand, by the other persons actions and/or attitude, that he/she is also attracted.

Taper dans l'œil = to feel suddenly attracted by someone (lit.: to hit on the eye).

Avoir un faible pour quelqu'un = to have a soft spot for someone .

Avoir un cœur d'artichaut = to be very sensitive and fall in love easily (lit.: to have the heart of an artichoke).

Faire la cour = an expression used when a man courts a woman; old-fashioned today.

Déclarer sa flamme = to declare one's love to the person concerned, also a bit old-fashioned (lit.: to declare one's flame).

Avoir un faible pour quelqu'un = to have a soft spot for someone .

Avoir un cœur d'artichaut = to be very sensitive and fall in love easily (lit.: to have the heart of an artichoke).

Tomber amoureux = to fall in love. One can also on rare occasions read or hear tomber en amour , but this sounds very old-fashioned or sophisticated, and used only in poetry or literature.

Un coup de foudre = love at first sight (lit.: a bolt of lightning).

Flirter = to flirt.

Séduire = to please and pay attention to someone and make him/her feel that a relationship with you may be nice (in French, séduire is a much more subtle attitude than “ to seduce ” in English). Idem for the word séduction .

Sortir avec = to have a love and/or sexual relationship with. Ex. : Le président sort avec une nouvelle nana = The president is going out with a new chic.

Rouler un patin, rouler une pelle = to give a French kiss (fam.); (lit.: to roll a skate, to roll a shovel). Note than, in French, when we talk about a French kiss, we never say donner un baiser français or un baiser à la française (as we can wrongly read in dictionaries); we can just say embrasser sur la bouche... which is more elegant than rouler un patin or rouler une pelle !

Avoir un rendez-vous, avoir un rencart (fam.), avoir une date = to have a date. Note than in avoir une date , the word date is pronounced in the English way.

Être au septième ciel = to be on cloud nine.

2) SENTIMENTS

Avoir des atomes crochus avec quelqu'un = To have a lot in common with someone. Ex. : Je passe beaucoup de temps avec ma copine Martine, j'ai vraiment des atomes crochus avec elle . = I spend a lot of time with my friend Martine, I have a lot in common with her (lit.: To have hooked atoms with someone).

3) RELATIONS PHYSIQUES/SEXUELLES

Rouler un patin = to give a French kiss; (patin, lit.: skate).

Rouler une pelle = idem (pelle, lit.: shovel).

S'envoyer en l'air = to have sex (lit.: to send oneself up in the air).

Faire une partie de jambes en l'air = idem.

Faire des galipettes = idem (lit.: to do somersaults).

Faire crac-crac = idem.

Sauter quelqu'un = idem (lit.: to jump) - but this expression is only used for a man when he "takes" a woman.

Faire un câlin = idem; but also means to spend a cozy time in each other's arms.

Tirer un coup = to have sex - but only for a man; and it suggests a very quick and not very romantic act!

Passer à la casserole = idem - but for a woman who rather feels obliged and is not totally enthusiastic...

Prendre son pied = to have an orgasm (lit.: to take one's foot) - mainly used by women. Also used about something that is really great. C'est le pied! = That's great!

Capote anglaise = condom; the "official" word is préservatif (while the English “preservative” is agent de conservation or conservateur in French…).

4) EXPRESSIONS AVEC DES EXEMPLES :

Trouver chaussure à son pied = To find the one, to find your heart's desire, to find the right person.. Lit.: To find a shoe that fits your foot. This expression, always used in the singular, is the first step in any relationship, someone you'll fit well enough with to spend a life (or at least a few years) with them. Ex.: Tu connais Michel ? Tant qu'il n'aura pas trouvé chaussure à son pied, il ne pourra être totalement heureux. = You know Michel? Until he finds the right person, he won't be totally happy.

Avoir un ticket = To have a thing for, to have a crush on someone. Lit.: To have a ticket (nothing to do with the English: "to have a ticket" = avoir un PV). This might be a good start for someone looking for a long-lasting relationship. Ex.: Tu as vu comme Lucie a regardé Michel ? Je crois qu'elle a un ticket avec lui != Have you seen how Lucie looked at Michel? I think that she has a crush on him.

Enterrer sa vie de garçon = To have a bachelor party. Lit.: To bury one's life as a boy. It is the same for women: Enterrer sa vie de jeune fille. When the wedding is approaching, a last evening of freedom with the groom's and bride's best friends is something to do. Ex.: Tu aurais dû voir l'enterrement de garçon de Michel ! On a pris une sacré cuite avec les potes. = You should have seen Michel's bachelor party! We got pretty hammered with the buddies.

Passer la bague au doigt = To get married, to put a ring on one's finger... one of the several expressions used, as in English, when talking about the wedding ceremony – and the commitment that it implies. Ex.: Alors ça y est, Michel va passer la bague au doigt de Lucie samedi prochain ? = So that's it, Michel is going to put a ring on Lucy's finger next Saturday?

Partir en lune de miel = To go on a honeymoon, an exact translation of the English. A synonym of lune de miel is: voyage de noces. This is the best part of the wedding, for many people. Sometimes a unique opportunity to take a trip to an exotic destination, something one won't be able to do so easily when one has children... Ex.: Tu te rends compte, Michel part en voyage de noces à Bali ! = Can you imagine, Michel is going to Bali on his honeymoon!


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Les enfants

1) POUR PARLER A UN ENFANT :

Viens ici mon petit ange ! = come here my little angel!

Quel petit démon, ce gamin ! = what a little devil, that kid is!

Tu seras sage, ma bichette ? = you'll be good won't you, my little doe?

Qu'est-ce que tu es coquin ! = how mischievous you are! (lit.: you're a little rascal!).

Tu as grandi, mon bout de chou ! = my, how you've grown, my little bit of cabbage !

Qu'est-ce qu'elle est belle, ma choupinette ! = how beautiful she is, my little cabbage!

Il est où mon poussin ? = where is my little chicklette?

Ne pleure plus, mon petit lapin ! = don't cry anymore, my little rabbit!

C'est beau ce que tu as fait, ma puce ! = what you did is really great (beautiful), my little flea!

Arrête de faire ton bébé ! = stop acting like a baby!

Tu as fait tes devoirs, mon trésor ? = have you done your homework, my treasure?

Note : The above expressions have been translated quite literally. They don't in any way correspond to commonly-used expressions of endearment, or otherwise, in English. An American or English child might be terribly offended being called a flea or a cabbage!

2) POUR PARLER DES ENFANTS :

Elle est mignonne ta môme ! = your kid (female) is really cute! Note : Môme is used both for boys and girls.

Tu t'occupes des gamins ? = are you taking care of the kids? Fem. of gamin: gamine.

Ils sont partis où, ces gosses ? = where have the kids gone?

Ils vont amener toute leur marmaille = they're going to bring their whole brood with them.

Ils sont insupportables, ces marmots ! = those kids (brats) are unbearable!

C'est l'album de photos de ta progéniture ? = is this the photo album of your descendants?

Il te ressemble drôlement ton rejeton ! = your child (offspring) really looks a lot like you!

C'est un vrai petit diable celui-ci ! = that one is a real little devil!

Note all the different expressions for children: gamin(e), gosse, rejeton, marmot, môme…

 


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L'âge

N'être plus tout jeune = to be not so young any more. Je ne suis plus tout jeune, tu sais ! = I am not that young anymore, you know!

Prendre de l'âge = to get older, to age.

Prendre de la graine = to learn from experience, usually with age.

Prendre de la bouteille = to gain experience while aging.

Le doyen/la doyenne = the oldest in a group/an association/ a village.

Se faire vieux = to become or look old.

Prendre un sacré coup de vieux = to look much older, usually over a short period of time.

Vieillir mal = to change in the wrong way when growing old. Literally, to age poorly. Il vieillit mal = he is not aging well, is not changing for the best.

Un homme/une femme d'un certain âge = a relatively old person.

Un homme/une femme d'un grand âge = an elderly person.

Les personnes âgées = old people.

Les anciens = old persons, but a bit old fashioned, mainly used as: les anciens combattants = war veterans.

Les aînés = the oldest. Usually used to designate a group of retired persons. Some social clubs call themselves " club des aînés ".

Les vieux = old persons (more pejorative than personnes âgées ).

Mes vieux = my folks (parents).

Salut mon vieux/ma vieille ! = hello my buddy! (a very common term of friendship, paradoxically, usually used for younger persons).

Une vieille branche = an old friend. Comment elle va, ma vieille branche? = How is my old friend?

Un vieux con = a stupid old man. Can also mean a dirty old man. It is quite pejorative.

Les vieux de la vieille = always the same (and not necessary old people). Chaque samedi au bistrot se retrouvent les vieux de la vieille = Every sunday the same old people meet at the café.

Une vieille fille/un vieux garcon = an old maid/old bachelor.

Etre vieux jeu = to be old-fashioned.

Le bon vieux temps = the good times from the past/the good old times (often used by older persons).

Les vieillards = very old persons (not very commonly used, a bit pejorative).

Le troisième âge = the retirement time of life, usually starting around 65.

Le quatrième âge = the oldest part of life, usually starting around 80.

Les ancêtres = ancestors; mainly used when one refers to one's family genealogy.

Les seniors = a modern expression used (mainly for marketing purposes) for every person older than 50-55.



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La maladie

Avoir chopé la grippe = to have caught the flu (popular way to say: avoir attrapé la grippe ). J'ai chopé une de ces grippes/une sacrée grippe : I got a very bad flu.

Une grippe de cheval = a very strong flu (lit.: a horse flu).

Un sale rhume = a bad cold.

Etre malade comme un chien = to be very sick (lit.: to be sick as a dog).

Souffrir comme une bête = to suffer a lot (lit.: to suffer like an animal).

Parlez du nez = to speak through your nose because of a cold.

Avoir la goutte au nez = to have a runny nose.

Avoir les jambes en coton = to have very tired legs because of a flu or after a long run or strenuous exercise (literally: to have legs of cotton).

Avoir une sale tête/une petite mine = to look very tired, to have a poor countenance.

Avoir la tête comme une lessiveuse = to have a terrible headache, frequently used in case of  a sinus infection; or to be exhausted after a too long meeting or too much work

Etre mal fichu/mal foutu/mal en point = to be in bad shape.

Etre douillet = to be very sensitive to pain or to be afraid of suffering.

Se tordre de douleur = to be doubled over with pain.

Etre bon/bonne à ramasser avec la petite cuillère = to be extremely weak (lit.: to be at a stage where you could be scooped up with a teaspoon).

Etre HS (hors service) = to be exhausted and unable to do anything.

Etre claqué/vidé/éreinté/crevé = to be exhausted (popular way to say: être épuisé ).

Tomber dans les pommes/tourner de l'œil = to faint (popular way to say : s'évanouir ).

Gerber = to throw up, vomit (slang).

Avoir mal au cœur = to be dizzy, carsick (and not: to have a pain in the heart, as it would seem if one were to translate literally).

Etre mal dans sa peau = to be dissatisfied with one's life, not to feel good about oneself.

Etre bien dans sa peau = to feel good about oneself, to have a good self image.

Avoir le cafard = to have the blues (lit.: to have the cockroach).

Avoir/perdre pied = to be able to touch the bottom (lake, swimming pool)/to loose one's footing. Also used in a figurative sense, in case of a depression, for example.

Etre au bout du rouleau = to be at the end of one's rope.

En faire une maladie = to take something too seriously. Lorsqu'elle a appris qu'elle allait changer de bureau, elle en a fait une maladie ! = When she learned that she was going to change of office, she took is so seriously!

Avoir compris sa douleur = to have understood the consequences of something that has happened. J'ai cru que je serais mieux dans ce nouveau bureau, mais j'ai vite compris ma douleur ! = I thought that I will be better off in this new office, but I soon understood my mistake!

Une maladie imaginaire = a non-existent or imaginary disease; to feel sick even when one is in a very good health. This expression has been used as the title of a very famous, and funny, play by Molière: Le malade imaginaire (The Hypochondriac).

 

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Le langage du monde du travail

Le boulot = slang for job/work. Quel boulot ! = What a difficult/what a big job!

Le turbin = work (un peu démodé).

Bosser = slang for to work . Ça bosse/ça bosse dur ! = You (we) are really working hard!

Métro, boulot, dodo = work, sleep, subway: a popular expression to symbolize the monotony of life, mainly used in the 1980s.

Galère = something that is difficult to accomplish.

La boîte = slang for the workplace .

On se la coule douce = We'll lay back and take it easy .

Un(e) pantouflard(e) = someone who prefers to stay at home. Pantoufles = house slippers.

Un bon à rien = a useless person.

Faire le pont = to "bridge" to or from a holiday that falls, say on a Tuesday. One doesn't work on Monday either.

Poser ses congés = to request a leave of absence.

Un(e) tire-au-flanc = a shirker, a layabout. Tirer au flanc.

Un(e) glandeur/euse = idem.

L'huile de coude = elbow grease.

Un larbin = a servent or slave. Je ne suis pas ton larbin! = I am not your servent/slave!

Faire son petit chef = to be bossy, to throw one's weight around.

Se faire porter raide ou malade = to call in sick.

Etre crevé = to be exhausted (literally dead).

Etre au bout du rouleau = to be at the end of one's limits, one can't take it any more.

Avoir la tête dans le seau = to be overloaded with work to the extent that we don't know how we will get it done.

On va voir ce qu'on va voir = we'll see what happens. On va voir ce qu'on va voir, si mon patron continue à me gonfler comme ça, il va m'entendre ! = We'll see what happens, if my boss continues to get me fed up like this, he will hear from me!

En faire voir de toutes les couleurs = to make someone's life impossible.

Etre dans la lune = to be a daydreamer, one's mind is wandering.

Gratter = to work.

Un travail de fourmis = a really meticulous or arduous job.

Quand on veut, on peut = a popular diction meaning when one really wants to achieve something, one can do it.

Mettre la clé sous la porte = to close a business, to go bankrupt.

Manger sur le pouce = to eat quickly, have a snack.

 


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L'argent, la fortune...

Encaisser = to collect or receive payment or cash a check. But in sports, the expression is often used to describe having a goal scored against a team.

Un rond = as an adjective, rond, means, of course, "round". It can also refer to a round number : Ça fait 50 euros tout rond = That will be exactly 50 euros. As a noun, un rond is often used to signify money.

Avoir des ronds = to be loaded. Il n'a plus un rond = He no longer has a penny to his name.

Thune (tune) = a slang expression for money in general. It used to be used to refer to a five-franc piece. On n'a plus une thune en poche = We don't have any cash/a single cent in the pocket.

Etre de vieille souche = to be from a very old and well established family. Une souche = the trunk of a tree.

Le beau linge = people who belong to the upper crust.

La crème de la société = idem.

Je le vaux bien = I'm worth it. I don't have to deprive myself of something just because of its price. This expression has become even more popular since it has been used in a well-known ad campaign by L'Oreal.

Etre dans la dèche = to be in tight spot financially, to be seriously in debt.

Se démerder (slang) = syn for se débrouiller : to be able to make out, to find a way to succeed.

Ça coûte les yeux de la tête = It costs an arm and a leg, it costs a fortune. Lit.: It costs the eyes of your head (meaning: It makes your eyes get out of your head). Ex.: Tu veux vraiment voyager en 1ère classe ? Ça va te coûter les yeux de la tête ! = You really want to travel 1st class? It will cost you an arm and a leg!
Note that recently the French added a new expression with the same meaning, inspired from the English one: Ça coûte un bras.

Ça coûte la peau des fesses = An exact synonym of the previous expression ─ just a bit more familiar. Lit.: It costs the skin of your buttocks! Ex.: J'aimerais bien inviter ma copine à Hawaï, mais j'ai peur que ça me coûte la peau des fesses ! = I'd love to invite my girlfriend to Hawaï, but I'm afraid it will cost me a fortune!

Ça coûte une blinde = Another synonym of the 2 expressions above. Its origin comes from "blind" and refers to a poker game practice of betting before the cards are turned over. Ex. Comment veux-tu que je puisse m'offrir un resto 3 étoiles ? Ca coûte une blinde! = How do you think that I can afford a 3-star restaurant? It costs a lot!

C'est le coup de bambou = It's very expensive; it may also mean that the price has suddenly increased, during summertime for example. Lit.: It's a bamboo bunch. Ex.: Je ne vais jamais dans cet hôtel le samedi, c'est le coup de bambou tous les week-ends! = I never go to this hotel on Saturday, it's way too expensive every weekend!

Ça coûte bonbon = It's expensive (but maybe not as expensive as in the expressions above). Lit.: It costs a candy. Ex. Tu es sûre que tu veux chercher un Airbnb dans Paris ? Tu sais, ça coûte bonbon ! = Are you sure you want to look for an Airbnb in Paris? You know, it's expensive!

 


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Faire la fête

1) EN FAMILLE ET ENTRE AMIS :

Faire la fête = to party.

Passer une nuit blanche = to stay up all night.

Les amuse-gueule = snacks, things to nibble on : literally, something that brings pleasure to your mouth (gueule).

En voulez-vous ? = would you like some?

Servez-vous ! = help youself!

Le poisson d'avril = April fool.

Si ça vous/te dit = if that suits, appeals to you.

Ça ne me dit rien = that doesn't interest me.

U n citron (une orange) pressé /e = fresh squeeed lemon (orange) juice .

Un sirop = non-alcolholic drinks made by adding water to a fruit-flavoured sirop.

Filons ! (verbe filer) = to leave, take off. Let's get out of here!

À perpète (la perpétuité) = in the boondocks. Ils habitent à perpète, ceux-là ! = They live in the boondocks, these ones!

Parler de la pluie et du beau temps = to make idle chit chat.

Arroser un événement = to celebrate an event by having a drink together  ( arroser literally means to water, i.e. the plants).

Être paf/bourré/rond/cuit = to be drunk.

Rigoler = to have a good time.

Tu rigoles ! = you're joking!

Pendre la crémaillère = to have a house warming party (lit. to hang the trammel, a ratcheted hook for a kettle, in the fireplace).

2) FETES DE VILLAGE :

Aller au manège = le manège is the assortment of amusement rides often present at village fairs.

Bal musette = a village dance with traditional French music.

Défilé = a parade.

Corso fleuri = a parade of vehicles decorated with flowers.

Payer sa tournée à la buvette = to buy a round at the bar.

Le dernier pour la route ! = a last one for the road!

Un buffet campagnard = a self-serve buffet made of local products (usually a lot of charcuterie, bread and red wine…).

Faire la java = an old-fashioned synonym of faire la fête , still used by elder persons in some villages. Java was a popular dance in the past.

Une kermesse = the yearly family party traditionally organized by local churches or religious schools but more and more by regular schools.


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Le langage du jeu

1) JOUER A....

Jouer à saute-mouton = to play leapfrog.

Jouer à chat perché = to play off-ground tag.

Jouer à cache-cache = to play hide and seek.

Jouer à la marelle = to play hopscotch.

Le jeu de l'oie = snakes and ladders (lit.: the game of the goose).

Sauter à la corde = to skip the rope.

Jouer au baby-foot = to play table football.

Jouer au morpion = to play tic tac toe, to play noughts and crosses.

Jouer aux osselets = to play jacks (an old-fashioned game nowadays in France).

Un animal en peluche = a cuddly, stuffed animal.

2) EXPRESSIONS UTILISANT LE LANGAGE DU JEU POUR DIRE TOUT AUTRE CHOSE :

Etre en jeu = to be at stake.

Tirer son épingle du jeu = to pull you iron out of the fire (lit.: to pull you pin from the game).

Savoir bien cacher son jeu = to be coy and not reveal your intentions.

Reprendre ses billes = to renege on a deal (lit.: to take back one's marbles).

Saisir la balle au bond = to seize/to jump at the opportunity (lit.: to seize the ball on the rebound).

Renvoyer la balle (à quelqu'un) = to retort (lit.: to throw the ball back to someone).

Se renvoyer la balle = to keep a lively argument going.

Etre habillé comme l'as de pique = to be dressed like a scarecrow/to any which way (lit.: to be dressed like the ace of spades).

Mettre cartes sur table = to tell the facts as they are without hiding anything (lit.: to lay one's cards on the table).

Ne pas avoir joué toutes ses cartes = to still have a trick up one's sleeve (lit.: not to have played one's last card).


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Expressions inspirées du langage des modes de transport

1) LE BATEAU :

Tenir la barre/être à la barre = to be in charge, in control - of a government, a company, for example. (lit.: to be at the helm).

Virer de bord/changer de cap = to change course.

Mettre le cap sur… = to set one's sight on something….

Mettre les voiles = to take off. (lit.: to put the up the sails). Ton mari n'est plus avec toi ? Non, il a mis les voiles = Your husband is not with you any more? No, he has left.

Réduire la voilure = to be less ambitious in one's projects, to reduce them.

Ramer = to work a lot without making any headway (lit.: to paddle/row).

Perdre la boussole = to lose your head (lit.: to lose your compass).

Naviguer à vue = to play it by ear, to improvise depending to the circumstances.

Naviguer entre les écueils = to cleverly avoid obstacles (in a business, for example).

Avoir le vent en poupe = to be very successful.

Jeter l'ancre = to settle down some place (lit.: to set the anchor).

Remettre à flot (une entreprise) = to help (a company) to start again.

2) LA BICYCLETTE, LE VELO :

Pédaler dans la semoule/dans la choucroute = to take leave of one's senses.

Se mélanger les pédales = to set off on the wrong foot.

Donner un coup de pédale = to increase one's effort.

Changer de braquet = to reoriente one's focus (lit.: to change gears).

Brûler les étapes = to go on faster than expected.

Avoir le nez dans le guidon = to concentrate on one's effort to reach one's goal.

Etre dans le peloton de tête = to be among the first (in any kind of competition: art, sport, education, etc).

Un VTT ( un vélo tout terrain) = an acronym for a mountain bike.

3) LA VOITURE :

Démarrer = to start (anything).

Démarrer sur les chapeaux de roue = to start extremely quickly (any type of project or activity).

Donner un coup de frein = to reduce considerably (one's expenditures, for example).

Donner un coup d'accélérateur = to increase (one's production, for example).

Mettre plein gaz = to go all out for something.

Carburer = to so something in excess, to abuse of something, work, alcohol… Il carbure au pastis = he drinks too much pastis.

Prendre un virage = to change course/direction

Ça roule ! C'est une affaire qui roule ! = that's OK, that's great, let's do it, it's working...

 

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Le langage de la politique

Un homme d'appareil = a political person strongly attached to his party and identified as such.

Un cumulard = a political official who holds several important offices at the same time (see article pages 17 & 19).

Etre une vraie girouette = to change with the weather/to be fickle ( une girouette = a weathervane).

Etre dans les petits papiers de quelqu'un = to be in someone's good graces, such as Interior Ministor Brice Hortefeux and his relationship to President Sarkozy, for example.

Faire cavalier seul = to go it alone, to run for election without any party backing.

Jouer des coudes = to elbow one's way through the crowd.

Jouer de la flûte/du pipeau = to say anything charming or persuasive to try to convince someone of something wrong, or not so promising. A Pied Piper reference.

Magouiller/magouille = to scheme ; wheeling and dealing. Il a magouillé avec l'argent du peuple = He used public money in a dubious (illegal) way. Ça sent la magouille = Something smells fishy.

Etre réglo = used for someone who follows the rules and conforms to social norms. Mon frère était très réglo quand il était jeune, mais maintenant... = My brother used to follow the rules when he was young, but now…

Prendre un bain de foule = to mingle with the crowd - what all political officials need to do from time to time.

Ramasser une veste = to lose badly (in an election).

Retourner sa veste = to change one's political allegiance; from right to left or vice-versa - good examples are Frédéric Mitterrand who was from the right in his youth before becoming socialist, or Bernard Kouchner, a socialist who agreed to be a minister in the Sarkozy Government.

Tirer la couverture à soi = to take all the credit (lit.: to hog the covers). Somewhat what Sarkozy has tried to do with his Prime Minister François Fillon, without much success.

Tirer dans les pattes de quelqu'un = to try, with some violence, to impede or stop someone from doing something.

" Tout ça pour ça " = (lit.: all that for that) an expression widely used during the last cabinet reshuffle in France in November 2010 to mean that a lot of noise was made for nothing (Much ado about nothing). The Prime Minister stayed the same, and not so many important changes were made…

Un zozo = used to describe a man who is a bit stupid. This was actually a little outdated until it was recently uttered by Prime Minister François Fillon in reference to Jean-Louis Borloo (when he was still Minister of the Environment and was competing with Fillon to replace him as Prime Minister): Borloo est un zozo. Il m'a fait passer pour un con ! What happened is that Borloo had made a public statement that was contrary to what Fillon had declared to the media about the possible shortage of petrol during the recent strikes…

Etre en Sarkozie = to live under Sarkozy's regime.

L'omniprésident = the omnipresident.

Sarkozyste = a follower of Sarkozy.

Villepiniste = a follower of Villepin.


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Argot et gros mots

Merde = literally and figuratively means "shit".

Oh, merde alors ! = oh, shit ! Oh, damn !

Etre dans la merde = to be up shit creek, in a lot of trouble.

Emmerder = to irritate or bother. Tu m'emmerdes ! = you are a pain in the neck! Another less polite way of saying the same thing would be: Tu me fais chier! ( Chier is a rather vulgar argot expression meaning "to shit").

Je t'emmerde ! = go to hell, the hell with you!

Un(e) emmerdeur/euse = a pain in the neck. Quel emmerdeur, celui-là !

Emmerdant(e) = irritating, boring, a pain in the neck.

S'emmerder = to be bored stiff. Qu'est-ce qu'on s'emmerde ici ! The even less polite form would be : qu'est-ce qu'on se fait chier ici !

Se démerder = a synonym for se débrouiller = to get by, to manage, to figure out how to do something. Il sait se démerder dans la vie = He knows how to take care of himself just fine. (Both the expressions se débrouiller and se démerder are reflections of what the French refer to as le système D – an art form for knowing how to function in life and for getting around the seemingly endless red tape of the French bureaucracy).

Con/conne = stupid, bloody, damned. Quel con ! = What a stupid fool he is! Qu'est-ce qu'il est con ! = how bloody stupid he is!

Etre con comme un balai = to be as stupid as a broomstick, he's a bloody fool!

Un connard/une connasse = a fool, an idiot.

Une connerie = an act of stupidity. Mon frère fait toujours des conneries ! = My brother always does stupid things!

Déconner = to fool around, do silly or stupid things.

Faire le con = to act stupid. Arrête de faire le con ! = stop acting like an idiot!

En avoir marre = to be fed up with something. J'en ai marre de ce boulot ! = I'm fed up with this job!

J'en ai ras le bol = ditto.

S'en ficher/s'en foutre = to not give a damn. Je m'en fiche/fous de ce qu'il raconte = I don't give a damn (I can't care less) about what he says.

Note : Even though the above expressions are all part and parcel of everyday spoken French, they should be used with extreme caution and not at all in polite company.


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Expressions avec le mot "coin"

Le coin = the corner.

Un coin tranquille = a quiet place.

Un bon coin = a good spot.

Le coin jardinage/artisanat, etc., du magasin = the gardening/handicraft, etc., part of the store.

Le bistrot du coin = the closest or neighborhood bistrot.

Au coin de la rue = at the corner of the street, the intersection.

A tous les coins de rue = everywhere, very ordinary. Des gens comme lui, on en rencontre à tous les coins de rue ! = People like him, one can see them everywhere!

Les gens du coin = the locals.

Cultiver un coin/lopin de terre = to cultivate a small piece of land.

Le coin fenêtre = the seat closest to the window in a train or a bus.

Un coin de paradis = an idyllic spot.

Un coin d'ombre = a small place with some shade.

Voyager aux quatre coins du monde = to travel to every corner of the world.

Vivre dans son coin = live in one's own world without interacting much with others.

Une soirée au coin du feu = a cosy evening at home close to a fireplace.

Le petit coin = the loo.

Au coin ! = in the past, what was said to children who didn't behave at school (they were asked to go stand in a corner of the classroom facing the wall).

En boucher un coin = to surprise someone to the extent that he/she doesn't know what to say.

Enfoncer un coin = to contribute to dissention between people.

Regarder du coin des yeux = have a furtive and discrete look at someone so that the person doesn't notice it.

Surveiller du coin des yeux = to verify discretely someone's work.

Un sourire en coin = a discreet, and ironic, smile.

Coin-coin = quack (of a duck). Also used sometimes to imitate the sound of a klaxon.


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Expressions avec le mot "coup"

Un coup = a knock or a blow, but there are tons of idioms with the word coup , such as:

Un coup de main = a helping hand. Tu peux me donner un coup de main avec cette valise ? = Can you give me a hand with this suitcase?

Un coup de pouce = a little help (to get started on something).

Un coup de poing = a blow with a fist/a punch.

Un coup de tête = on a whim. Il est parti sur un coup de tête = He left quickly, without thinking about it beforehand .

Un coup d'œil = a glance.

Un coup de collier = a final effort to finish something quickly.

Un coup de foudre = love at first sight.

Un coup de cœur = a favorite choice or selection. Son nouveau livre était mon coup de cœur de toute l'année = his new book was my favorite of the whole year.

Un coup de barre = a sudden fatigue.

Un coup d'éclat = a commotion. Il a fait un coup d'éclat hier soir = He made a big fuss about things last night.

Avoir un coup de blues/de cafard = to feel a little down/depressed.

Un coup de fouet = a boost to become more energetic. Quand je bois un café après le déjeuner, ça me donne un coup de fouet ! = When I have a coffee after lunch, this gives me a boost!

Un coup de gueule = an argument or expression of discontent.

Un coup de sang = a burst of anger.

Un coup dur = a hard or difficult blow.

Accuser le coup = to be obviously bothered or effected by something.

Un sale coup = a dirty trick.

Un coup de poignard dans le dos = to stab someone in the back/to betray someone.

Un coup d'Etat = to overthrow the government in power.

Un coup de théâtre = something unexpected that completely changes things.

Un coup de Trafalgar = an event which has serious consequences (in reference to the naval battle in 1805 between the Spanish and French against the English. Napoleon was defeated).

Le coup de grâce = to put someone/something out of his/its misery.

Tenir le coup = to resist, hold out.

Un coup de soleil = a sunburn.

Faire coup double = to kill two birds with one stone.

Etre dans le coup = to be in on something, to be aware of what's going on.

Boire un coup = to have a drink. Dis, si on allait boire un coup chez Jean-Paul avant de rentrer ? Hey, what about having a drink at Jean-Paul's before going back home?

Un coup de bambou = an excessive price, and sometimes a sudden or seasonal increase. Sur la Côte d'Azur, c'est le coup de bambou en été ! = On the Riviera, it is too expensive during summer time! J'évite d'aller dans ce magasin, c'est le coup de bambou chez eux = I avoid going to this shop, it's too expensive there.

Un coup de fil/de téléphone = a phone call. Je vais passer un coup de fil à Marc pour lui demander de nous rejoindre.

Un coup de bol/de pot/de chance = a stroke of good luck.

Du coup = consequently/as a result.

A coup sûr = for sure.

Sur le coup = immediately. La victime a été tuée sur le coup = The victim was killed instantly.

Sous le coup de = in the grip of/under the influence of.

Au coup par coup = as the need arises.

Tout à coup = suddenly.

Tout d'un coup = all at once.

Valoir le coup = to be worth the effort

Faire d'une pierre deux coups = to kill two birds with one stone.

Les 400 coups = youthful mischief.

Le coup du lapin = whip lash.

Un coup d'épée dans l'eau = a useless, ineffective action.

Un coup de poker = a gamble, a risky venture.

Un coup de feu = two meanings: a gun shot; and the busiest time in a restaurant (expression used by cooks and waiters).

 

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Quelques expressions avec le verbe "faire"

se faire gronder = to get scolded.

s'en faire = to worry ( Ne t'en fais pas !).

se faire à = to get used/accustomed to.

faire le clown/l'âne/son bébé) = to act like a clown (a donkey) (a baby).

faire la tête = to brood about something.

faire son droit /sa médecine/son italien = to study.

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Mots ou expressions utilisant X, Y ou Z

Rayons X = X rays.

Film X/classé X = X rated movie.

L'X = often used to designate the Ecole polytechnique (prestigious polytechnic engineering school). Après avoir fait l'X, il s'est incrit à l'ENA (Ecole nationale d'Administration). Un(e) X = a student at the Ecole polytechnique .

X ou Y = whatever. Pour une raison X ou Y il a changé d'avis = For whatever reason he has changed his mind.

X fois = many times. Je te l'ai répété x fois et tu ne t'en souviens toujours pas ! = I repeated it to you many times and you still don't remember it!

Accoucher sous X = to give birth in total anonymity, so that the child will not know who his/her parents are.

Porter plainte contre X = to lay charges against anybody who might be responsible.

Youpi/youpie = yuppie.

Yéyé/yé-yé = designates a pop singer or teenage fan in the 1950s. Les années 1950, c'était la période yéyé .

Yoyo/yo-yo = yo-yo. Often used in a figurative sense, particularly about losing or gaining weight. J'en ai marre de faire du yoyo, j'ai déjà repris 5 kg ! One also says that the price of oil plays yo-yo, etc.

Zapper = to skip quickly from one TV channel to another without taking the time to see a full programme.

Zèbre = literally zebra, but also means a "guy" in a slightly pejorative sense. C'est un drôle de zèbre, ce mec, tu sais qu'il a encore changé de métier ?

Zigoto = another word to designate the same type of man. A bit outdated nowadays.

Zozo = a man who is a bit stupid. Still used by adults but a bit outdated. Quel zozo celui-là !

Zen = cool, relaxed. Very commonly used without any particular link to any Buddhism practice. Moi je reste très zen quand mon mari s'énerve !

Tes zigs = that guy. Regarde-le, il est dingue de sa voiture, tes zigs !

Zigzag/zigzaguer = same as zigzag in English.

Zinc = café or bistrot (the countertops in such establishments used to be covered with zinc). Used more in Paris than in other parts of France, and has become a bit outdated today, but several restaurants now bear the name of Petit zinc .

Zip = common word for zipper (the real word being fermeture éclair ).

Zipper = to zip up.

Zizanie = dissension in a group. S'il vient ce soir, il va encore semer la zizanie !

Zizi = male sexual organ/dick. Became popular after a song by French singer Pierre Perret: Le zizi .

Zone = a part of a city; often used to designate the part of the city which is the most destitute, the territory of people who aren't very recommendable. Ne va pas là-bas, c'est la zone !

Zoner = to wander or roam about with no specific goal or purpose.

Zonard = young person living on the fringes of society, un marginal.

Zut = damn. Oh zut, ils ne passent plus le film que je voulais voir ! = Oh damn, the film I wanted to see isn't playing anymore!

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Expressions utilisant des chiffres

A la une = on the front page. A la une de tous les quotidiens aujourd'hui : le match de foot Lyon-Liverpool.

Faire d'une pierre deux coups = to kill two birds with one stone.

Deux opinions valent mieux qu'une = two opinions are worth more than one.

A deux pas d'ici = really close by. Viens me voir ! Tu peux venir à pied, j'habite à deux pas d'ici !

Couper la poire en deux = to agree to a mutually beneficial compromise.

Courir deux lièvres à la fois = to burn the candle at both ends.

C'est trois fois rien = it's really nothing at all. Ne t'inquiète pas, c'est trois fois rien, il n'y a rien de cassé.

En deux temps trois mouvements = to do something very quickly, in the twinkling of an eye.

Etre haut comme trois pommes = to be very short.

Trois fois merde = an idiomatic expression often used to wish someone luck on an exam or something rather difficult. You can simply say Merde, but Trois fois merde makes it even stronger. It is considered bad luck to say Bonne chance in such situations.

Un de ces quatre = one of these days. On se fait un petit lunch un de ces quatre ? = Shall we have lunch one of these days?

Couper les cheveux en quatre = to split hairs.

Se plier en quatre, se mettre en quatre = to bend over backwards. Il s'est mis en quatre pour finir à l'heure.

Se saigner aux quatre veines = idem. To make an enormous effort.

Etre tiré à quatre épingles = to be dressed to the hilt.

Ne pas y aller par quatre chemins = to cut to the chase, to get straight to the point.

Le quatre heures/le goûter = the snack for children when they return from school around four o'clock. N'oublie pas ton quatre heures !

Dire ses quatre vérités = to tell someone exactly what one thinks, to be absolutely frank. Tu vas voir, je vais lui dire ses quatre vérités à lui, il est temps qu'il arrête son cinéma !

Monter les escaliers quatre à quatre = to climb stairs four at a time.

Tomber les quatre fers en l'air = to fall flat on one's back. Can also have a figurative meaning of falling in disgrace.

Cinq sur cinq = I read you loud and clear (from military communications terminology). Bien reçu, cinq sur cinq, pas la peine de répéter !

Le cinq à sept = a reference to the custom of meetings one's mistress for a quick encounter between five o'clock and seven o'clock.

Tourner sept fois sa langue dans sa bouche = to think long and hard before speaking.

La preuve par neuf = an easy way of checking a simple mathematical calculation. To cast out nines.

Le 13e mois = a thirteenth month of salary given to most French employees.

Vendredi 13 = Friday the thirteenth.

Merde puissance treize = an even stronger way of wishing someone good luck (see Trois fois merde above).

Chercher midi à 14 heures = to make things more complicated than they really are. Ne va pas chercher midi à 14 heures, dis-moi juste si je peux te voir ou pas !

Vingt-deux v'la les flics ! = watch out, the cops are coming! An expression frequently used by the students during the May '68 student uprising.

Se mettre sur son 31 = to wear one's very best clothes.

Les 400 coups. Faire les 400 coups = to get into all kinds of mischief. Also the title of one of François Truffaut's early films about a young boy who got into serious trouble. Il a bien l'âge de faire les 400 coups, ça lui passera !

36.000 = number the French frequently use when referring to an inestimable number of things: – Que vas-tu faire ce week-end ? Rester chez moi, il n'y a pas 36.000 choses à faire dans ce bled ! = – What are you going to do this week-end? – Stay home, there are not so many things one can do in this hick town!

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Expressions populaires diverses

1) TRADITIONNELLES :

Le bazar = a chaotic mess, untidyness. Quel bazar, ta chambre !

Avoir la bougeotte = to want to be on the go all the time.

C'est ni fait ni à faire = this is useless as it doesn't produce a good result.

Une clope = a cigarette, a fag. T'as pas une clope ? = Do you have a cigarette ? But with the forthcoming restriction on smoking in public places in France, you had best make sure you smoke your clopes outside.

Cou-ci, cou-çà = so so.

Crado, crade = extremely dirty. Dommage que cette gare soit si crado tout le temps ! = Too bad that this train station is always so dirty!

Dingue = crazy. Can also be used as an adjective meaning unbelievable. Ma voiture a pris feu et a dégagé une fumée dingue !

Fais gaffe ! = watch out, be careful!

Fana = crazy about something ( fana is short for " fanatique" ).

Kik kif bourricot = two sides of the same coin; 6 of one, a half dozen of the other. One can also say blanc bonnet et bonnet blanc. Note : bourricot is a slang word for a donkey ( âne ).

Au pif = by chance, without thinking in advance, following one's instinct ( pif is also a slang word for nose). J'ai choisi ce vin au pif, et j'ai appris après que c'était le meilleur de la cave ! = I chose this wine by chance, and I learned afterwards that it was the best of the wine cellar. One can also cook au pif if you just follow your instincts rather than a recipe.

Etre à côté de la plaque = to be wide of the mark, totally out of it. Elle est à côté de la plaque = She hasn't got a clue.

Ric-rac : Ça va se jouer ric-rac = It's going to be touch and go. J'ai eu mon train ric-rac = I barely made my train.

Du tac au tac = to reply extremely quickly. Quand je lui ai demandé si elle voulait bien m'épouser, elle a répondu "oui" du tac au tac ! = When I asked her if she wanted to marry me, she replied right away, "yes"!

2) PLUS MODERNES :

Casse-toi ! = Get ought of my sight! This expression has been considerably enhanced and modernized by président Nicolas Sarkozy since he said " Casse-toi pauvre con ! " to a man who had refused to shake his hand at the Agriculture Fair in Paris.

Ciao = means hello or bye bye. This Italian word is more and more used by the French, especially in Paris.

Grave = serious. But when used by young people it means either "stupid" or "heavy", either "a lot". Il est grave, ce mec = he is stupid, that guy. Or: Je te kiffe grave = I love you a lot, I am crazy about you.

Lol/LOL = an acronym for Laughing Out Loud, first used by American youth in their text messages, but one that appears increasingly on forums and sms sent by young French people.

Loser = same meaning as in English. Used more and more by younger French people.

Mortel = fatal, lethal. But when used by young people it means great, incredible, fantastic. Il est mortel, ce film ! = this film is so great!

Truc de ouf = crazy! Ouf is the verlan (reverse language used by young generations in the suburbs of the French cities) for fou , which means crazy. C'est un truc de ouf cette histoire ! = This is crazy, this whole story!

Voilà, quoi = so it is, well you know. These words are often used at the end of a sentence when one doesn't know what to say.

Y a pas photo (il n'y a pas photo) = there is no doubt, no question. Y a pas photo, il est le meilleur = there is no doubt, he is the best. This expression comes from the language of horse races: it's not a photo finish.

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Quelques abréviations

Le bac (le baccalauréat) = the end of lycée exam that also permits entry to the university.

Une pub (une publicité) = an ad.

Un blème (un problème) = a problem. " Pas de blème !" = No worries!

Une (les) info(s) (une information, les informations) = a piece/bit of information/the news.

La com (la communication) = communication.

Un écolo (un écologiste) = an environmentalist. Les écolos ont manifesté contre la construction de ce barrage = The environmentalists demonstrated against the construction of this dam.

Accro (accroché) = really taken by or hooked on something. C'est un accro de cinéma.

Maso (masochiste) = masochistic. Il est maso, cet alpiniste !

Un ado (un adolescent) = a teenager.

Perso (personnellement) = personally. Perso, je trouve Juliette Binoche super belle !

Un démago (démagogue) = a demagogue.

Un facho (fasciste) = a fascist.

Un macho (machiste) = a macho.

Un mégalo (mégalomaniaque) = a megalomaniac.

Une ZAC (zone d'aménagement concerté) = housing zone designed according to a concerted agreement.

Une ZEP (zone d'éducation prioritaire) = priority education zone.

Une Z UP (zone à urbaniser en priorité) = priority housing zone (usually low-income housing).

 

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Apprendre le français, mémoriser, oublier...

1) APPRENDRE, ASSIMILER, MEMORISER... :

Apprendre le b.a.-ba = the basics, the basic knowledge.

Faire ses gammes = to cut one's teeth on something; lit.: to practice one's chords.

Parler français comme une vache espagnole = to speak very bad French (lit.: to speak French like a Spanish cow).

Piger (fam.) = to get, to understand quite well. Ce n'est pas la peine de m'expliquer davantage, j'ai tout pigé ! = there is no need to explain anymore to me, I have understood everything!

Apprendre au quart de tour = to learn very quickly.

Se creuser la cervelle, se creuser la tête = to think a lot, to make a special intellectual effort. To rack one's brain.

Avoir la tête pleine = to have a full head, to the point that one cannot handle anymore.

C'est ma madeleine à moi = lit.: it is my own cake (madeleine); refers to la madeleine de Proust, and means that it is something (a smell, a taste) that triggers the memory of a situation in the past. Ce goût de crème de châtaigne, c'est ma madeleine à moi = this taste of chestnut cream reminds me of my youth.

Avoir une mémoire d'éléphant = to have an excellent memory.

Être gravé dans la mémoire = to be engraved in one's memory.

Avoir une mémoire visuelle = to have a visual memory.

Se rafraîchir la mémoire = to refresh one's memory.

2) SE TROMPER, OUBLIER :

Se planter (fam.) = to make a mistake, to be wrong. Désolé, je me suis plantée complètement en faisant cet exercice = Sorry, I was totally wrong in doing this exercise.

Se mélanger les pédales = to be mixed up, to be confused (lit.: to mix up one's pedals).

S'emmêler les pinceaux = idem (lit.: to mix up one's brushes).

Ça rentre par une oreille et ça sort par l'autre = it goes in one ear and out the other.

Ça m'est sorti de la tête = it has slipped my mind.

Je l'ai sur le bout de la langue = it's right on the tip of my tongue.

Avoir la mémoire courte = to have a short memory.

Avoir une cervelle d'oiseau = idem (lit.: to have the brain of a bird).

Avoir la mémoire qui flanche = to have a memory that is getting weaker.

Avoir un trou de mémoire = to have a memory lapse.

 

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Expressions avec le verbe "casser"

Se casser (familiar) = to leave, to go, to flee.

Casse-toi (slang) = get out of here! Since President Sarkozy said this to a man who refused to shake hands while he was visiting the Agricultural Fair in Paris ( Casse-toi, pauvre con ! ), the French always think of this incident when using this expression, which usually makes everyone laugh...

Se casser la pipe (familiar) = 1) to fall; 2) to die.

Se casser la figure (familiar) = 1) to fall; 2) to fail at something.

Se casser la gueule (slang) = idem, but more vulgar.

Se casser le dos/les reins (familiar) = to make such a physical effort that we feel (or risk feeling) a pain in the back.

Se casser la tête = to think a lot in order to find a solution to something, to rack one's brain, or to do everything perfect.

Être casse-tête = to be difficult.

Être casse-cou = to have a tendency to take physical risks, to ignore danger. Je dois toujours surveiller mon fils, il est tellement casse-cou ! = I must constantly watch my son, he ignores danger so much!

Être casse-pieds (familiar) = to be annoying, insistant (for a person); qu'est-ce qu'il est casse-pieds, ce client, il demande toujours des choses impossible ! = How annoying this client is, he always asks for impossible things!

Être casse-couilles (slang) = idem, but much more vulgar; coquilles = bollocks...

Être casse-bonbons (slang) = idem, but a little more polite (bonbons is another way, more correct, to talk about bollocks).

Casser la croûte, casser la graine (familiar) = to eat; suggests a quick lunch or a sandwich during the day.

Casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu'un (familiar) = to slander somebody.

Ne pas casser des barres, ne rien casser (familiar) = to be not very good, of not great quality, etc. Il ne casse pas des barres, ce gâteau au chocolat = it is not very good, this chocolate cake.

Casser la baraque (slang) = to bring the efforts made by someone to nothing by doing better, or by saying something that renders his plans useless ; lit.: to break the barrack. Ma fille m'a appelée maman devant ce jeune homme qui me plaisait bien, elle m'a cassé la baraque ! = My daughter called me mum in front of this young man that I kind of liked, she destroyed my chances with him.

Ça casse (slang) = that hurts, that nullifies every effort one makes. Used by young people when they talk about their parents, their teachers; ça casse quand tu reçois une note comme ça ! = It hurts when you get a grade like that (at school).

Ça passe ou ça casse (familiar) = either things work out, or everything will fail.

À tout casser = wonderful, great, extraordinary. On a fait une fête à tout casser ! = We had a great party!

Faire un casse (slang) = to do a hold-up or a burglary (notice that casse is masculine in this usage).

Il y a eu de la casse (familiar) = there was damage.

Mettre une voiture à la casse = to bring a car to the wrecking yard.

On ne fait pas d'omelette sans casser des oeufs = One doesn't do something without taking risks/causing a little damage; lit.: one doesn't make an omelet without breaking eggs.

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Le langage de l'humour

1) QUELQUES EXPRESSIONS:

Se fendre la pipe; se fendre la pêche; se fendre la pomme = to laugh and to have a really good time.

se poiler = to laugh (fam., almost vulgar); une bonne poilade = a good laugh; poilant(e) = funny

se gondoler (fam.) = idem.

se bidonner (fam.) = idem.

être plié en quatre (fam.) = to laugh so much that one gets a pain in the side (literally, to be bent in four).

se dilater la rate (fam.) = idem.

être pété(e) (fam., almost vulgar) = to laugh so much that one cannot stop.

lol = very funny (synonym of “tordant” (adaptation from the English “laughing out loud”).

prendre du bon temps = to have a good time.

payer, s'en payer = idem; payant(e) = funny. Ex.: Il est payant, celui-là ! = He is really funny, this one!; impayable = extremely funny.

Être pince-sans-rire = to have a deadpan sense of humour.

Se chatouiller pour se faire rire = to force oneself to laugh about something that one doesn't find very funny; chatouiller = to tickle; se chatouiller = to tickle oneself.

Amuser la galerie = to make people laugh; sometimes used in a negative way: to make people laugh because of a lack of substance in what one has to say, or because one wants to avoid discussing important subjects.

2) QUELQUES PROVERBES FRANCAIS :

Le rire est contagieux = laughter is contagious; an adaptation of this expression is: le rire est contagieux, faire la gueule est génétique = laughing is contagious, to sulk is genetic.

Plus on est de fous, plus on rit = the more, the merrier; also used with irony, for example when several friends gather to do house chores or moving to a new house, etc. The expression has been transformed by the humorist Coluche into : Plus on est de fous, moins il y a de riz = the more people there are (on the earth), the less rice they will have (to share).

Il vaut mieux en rire que pleurer = It is nicer/better to laugh about it (any event that may happen) than to cry.

Jean qui rit et Jean qui pleure = to go rapidly from laughter to tears; inspired from Voltaire's poem (Jean qui pleure et qui rit), meaning that it is the same person who will be happy one day, unhappy the day after.

Rira bien qui rira le dernier = He who laughs last, laughs best.

Tel qui rit vendredi dimanche pleurera = The one who laughs now will certainly be much less happy later.

Le rire est le propre de l'homme = a famous quote from the French writer Rabelais, in Gargantua, meaning that laughing is specific to human beings.

Le rire est une chose sérieuse avec laquelle il ne faut pas plaisanter = a quote from French humorist Raymond Devos, meaning that laughter is a serious matter about which one should not joke.

Les plaisanteries les plus courtes sont les meilleures = the shorter the jokes, the better.

 

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Expressions avec le verbe "prendre"

Bien s'y prendre = to have the know-how in doing things. Ex. : Tu devrais laisser ton mari s'occuper du bébé, il s'y prend très bien ! = You should let your husband take care of the baby, he does it very well!

En prendre de la graine = to learn a lesson from something, to learn from someone's experience (lit.: to take grain from something). Ex. : Vous avez vu comment fonctionne le système éducatif au Danemark ? On devrait en prendre de la graine. = Did you see how the education system works in Denmark? We should learn a lesson from it.

En prendre pour son grade = to be given a reprimand after doing something wrong. Ex. : Ma fille est arrivée trop souvent en retard à l'école, elle en a pris pour son grade ! = My daugther arrived too often late at school, she has been given a reprimand!

Prendre le contrepied de… = to do the reverse, to go in an opposite direction (lit.: to take the wrong/opposite foot). One can also say : prendre quelque chose à contrepied. Ex. : François Hollande a pris le contrepied des mesures décidées par Nicolas Sarkozy / François Hollande a pris à contrepied les mesures décidées par Nicolas Sarkozy. = François Hollande has done just the opposite than Nicolas Sarkozy for the decisions he had taken.

Prendre congé de quelqu'un = to say a polite goodbye to someone before leaving (lit.: to take leave of someone). Ex. : Il est tard, il est temps de prendre congé. Merci beaucoup pour ce délicieux dîner ! = It is late, it is time to say goodbye. Thank you very much for this delicious dinner!

Prendre connaissance de quelque chose = to inform oneself about something, to read something in view of knowing what it is about (lit.: to gain knowledge of something). Ex. : Pourriez-vous m'appeler demain ? Je n'ai pas encore eu le temps de prendre connaissance de votre demande. = Could you call me tomorrow? I haven't yet had the time to review (inform myself about) your request.

Prendre en considération (formal) = to agree to consider a request or a piece of advice. Ex. : Comment voulez-vous respecter un gouvernement qui ne prend pas en considération les souhaits du peuple ? = How could we respect a government that refuses to take into consideration the wishes of the people?

Prendre conscience = to realize. Ex. : Je viens de prendre conscience des risques que cette politique pourrait entraîner. = I have just realized the risks that these policies (political stance) could lead to.

Prendre en grippe = to take a strong disliking to someone (lit.: to take in the flu). Ex. : Je n'en peux plus de travailler dans cette boîte, le patron m'a pris en grippe. = I can't stand to work in this office any longer, the boss has taken a strong disliking to me.

Prendre du recul = to step back from something. One can also say: prendre du champ. Ex. : Tu devrais prendre du recul / du champ, ça te permettra de repartir sur de meilleures bases = You should distance yourself a bit from all of this, then you'll be able to start on a better footing/get off to a better start.

Prendre ses aises = to act, to behave just like at home (with the suggestion that the person is a little intrusive and doesn't care what others think). Ex. : Tu ne crois pas que ta mère exagère ? Elle prend vraiment ses aises chez nous maintenant. = Don't you think your mother exagerates? She behaves with us just like she's at home.

Prendre ses cliques et ses claques = to leave, to go away (with the meaning that one takes all his or her possessions with). Ex. : Si mon mari continue à m'énerver, je prends mes cliques et mes claques = If my husband continues to get on my nerves, I'll leave.

Prendre son pied = to have a great time, to express that something i s really great (lit.: to take one's foot), and also: to have an orgasm, mainly said by women. One can also say: C'est le pied! To express the same two meanings. Ex .: Elles étaient géniales ces vacances, j'ai pris un super pied ! = This vacation was really great, I had so much fun!

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Expressions inspirées des couleurs

1) BLANC :

De but en blanc = straight to the point. Ex. : J'ai annoncé de but en blanc à mon patron que je démissionnais = I said straight to the point to my boss that I was resigning.

Passer une nuit blanche = to spend a sleepless night.

Etre connu comme le loup blanc = to be very well known by everybody. Ex. : Ce n'est pas la peine de te présenter mon nouveau voisin, il est connu comme le loup blanc en ville ! = There is no need to introduce you to my new neighbour, he is very well known in the city!

Donner carte blanche à quelqu'un = to entrust, to give full trust and power to someone to do something (a professional partner, most often). Ex. : Maintenant c'est lui qui s'occupe des relations à la clientèle, je lui ai donné carte blanche = Now he is the one who deals with the client relations, I gave him full power.

Être cousu de fil blanc = to be obvious, very visible (usually about a story told by someone). Ex. : J'étais sûre qu'il cherchait un prétexte pour sortir avec cette nana, c'était cousu de fil blanc ! = I was sure that he was trying to find an excuse to date this girl, it was obvious!

2) ROUGE :

Voir rouge = to be angry. Ex. : Ce gamin est toujours en retard ! Je vais commencer à voir rouge = This kid is always late, I am starting to get angry.

Tirer à boulets rouges = to criticize someone quite strongly and directly. Ex. : Si tu avais vu le maire UMP du village ! Il a tiré à boulets rouges sur le candidat socialiste = If you could have seen the UMP (main Party on the Right in France) mayor! He highly criticized the socialist candidate.

3) BLEU :

Être un cordon bleu = to be an excellent cook. Ex. : Je ne savais pas que ton mari était un vrai cordon bleu! = I didn't know that your husband was such a good cook!

Avoir une peur bleue = to be terribly afraid.

4) JAUNE :

Rire jaune = to pretend laughing while trying to hide a disappointment or an embarrassment. Ex. : Il a ri jaune quand je lui ai dit que je savais exactement où il allait le soir ! = He pretended to laugh but was very embarrassed when I told him that I knew exactly where he was going in the evening!

5) VERT :

Avoir la main verte = to have a green thumb.

Se mettre au vert = to get away from a stressing place, to leave for the countryside. Ex. : Après tant d'années au guichet de la banque, je suis allée me mettre au vert ! = After so many years at the bank counter, I left for the countryside (or a more relaxing place)!

En voir des vertes et des pas mûres = to see a lot of things, some of which are very shocking or disturbing. Ex. : Tu sais, en travaillant dans un hôpital, j'en vois des vertes et des pas mûres ! = You know, by working in an hospital, I see a lot of things!

6) NOIR :

Mettre les choses noir sur blanc = to put everything straight, very clear. Ex. : Avec la nouvelle vendeuse, j'ai mis les choses noir sur blanc pour qu'elle ne vienne pas me dire qu'elle ne savait pas = With the new saleswoman, I made everything very clear, so that she doesn't come telling me that she didn't know.

Travailler au noir = to do undeclared work.

Broyer du noir = to have the blues, to have negative and dark thoughts. Ex. : Depuis que sa femme est partie, il broie du noir = Since his wife left him, he only looks on the dark side of things.

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Expressions avec l'adjectif "bon" (et "bonne")

Pour de bon = for good, really, once and for all; used sometimes after having said something that may not quite be true. Ex. : - C'est sûr que tu viens demain ? - Oui, je viens pour de bon cette fois = - Are you sure you are coming tomorrow? - Yes, I'm coming for sure this time.

Être de bonne foi = to be of good faith, to be sincere.

Avoir bon dos = to be falsely accused. Ex. : - Le gamin a encore mangé trop de gâteaux ! C'est de ta faute, tu l'as laissé faire. - Mais pas du tout, je n'y suis pour rien ! J'ai bon dos, une fois de plus... = - The kid has eaten too many cakes again! It's your fault, you let him eat them. - But not at all, I have nothing to do with this! I am falsely accused, once again...

Bon an, mal an = when all is said and done, taking everything into account. Ex. : Bon an, mal an, mon fils a assez bien réussi ses études = Considering everything, my son succeeded quite well in his studies.

À bon escient = advisedly, wittingly.

Tenir le bon bout = to have finished most of a difficult job or activity and to be close to the end. Ex. : J'aurai bientôt fini de répondre à la masse de e-mails que j'ai reçu pendant mon absence, je tiens le bon bout ! = I will soon finish answering all the many emails I received during my absence, I am close to the end!

Prendre du bon temps = to take it easy, to take the time to relax or to enjoy life. Ex. : Depuis qu'il est à la retraite, mon mari prend du bon temps = Since he retired, my husband takes time to enjoy life.

Être de bon poil = to be in a good mood (lit.: to have good body hair).

Se montrer bon prince = to be tolerant and/or understanding. Ex. : Je vais me montrer bon prince, je vais lui payer tout son salaire bien qu'il n'ait pas complètement fini son travail = I'll be tolerant, I will pay his full salary even though he hasn't totally finished his work.

Avoir bon cœur = to be kind-hearted.

Faire contre mauvaise fortune bon cœur = to satisfy oneself with what one has, not to be discouraged, even when faced with difficulties. Ex. : Je n'ai pas pu partir en vacances, mais j'ai fait contre mauvaise fortune bon cœur = I couldn't go on holiday, but I didn't get discouraged, I didn't let it bother me.

Faire bonne figure = to look happy, even if one has problems or is unsatisfied with something.

Avoir quelqu'un à la bonne = to have a very positive opinion of a person, to be particularly fond of him or her. Ex. : Je suis sûr que mon patron me laissera prendre un jour la semaine prochaine, il m'a à la bonne = I am sure that my boss will let me take one day off next week, he has a soft spot for me.

À la bonne franquette = simply, without any fuss. Ex. : Tu viens manger ce soir ? Passe quand tu veux, on est avec quelques amis, ce sera à la bonne franquette . = Why don't you come eat with us tonight? Come anytime you want, we are having a few friends over, it will be very simple.

Être entre de bonnes mains = to be in good hands.

Être né sous une bonne étoile = to be born under a lucky star.

S'en payer une bonne tranche = to have a lot of fun. Ex. : Ces vacances ont été super, on s'en est payé une bonne tranche ! = These holidays have been great, we had a lot of fun!

En bonne et due forme = in due form.

Un remède de bonne femme = a old and simple remedy, handed down by the elderly.

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Expressions avec le mot "coeur"

Avoir un grand cœur = to have a big/large heart, to be very warm and generous.

Ça vient du fond du cœur = this is heartfelt, from the bottom of one's heart.

Être un cœur à prendre = to be single, to be ready to find a lover.

À cœur ouvert = to be forthright, open about something.

Mettre du baume au cœur = to lift the spirits (lit.: to put some balm on the heart).

Laisser parler son cœur = to listen to one's heart.

Loin des yeux, loin du cœur = out of sight, out of mind.

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas/que la raison ignore (inspiré d'une citation de Blaise Pascal) = the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.

Entre les deux mon cœur balance = I can't chose between them; a phrase that the French often say when they hesitate between two choices.

Prendre à cœur = to take to heart. Ex. : Quand ma fille fait un travail qui n'est pas un devoir imposé, elle le prend beaucoup plus à cœur ! When my daughter does something other than obligatory homework, she takes it much more to heart!

Apprendre par cœur = to learn by heart.

Mettre du cœur à l'ouvrage = to put your heart and soul into what you are doing.

Si le cœur vous en dit = If it suits you. Ex. : Vous venez chez nous ce week-end ? Si le cœur vous en dit, on pourrait aller faire un tour en bateau sur le lac ! = Are you coming to our home this weekend? If it suits you, we could do a boat ride on the lake!

Faire contre mauvaise fortune bon cœur = to make the best of something bad, to accept the situation as it is without complaining.

S'en donner à cœur joie = to do something wholeheartedly, to have a great time. Ex. : Dimanche, les enfants s'en sont donnés à cœur joie ! = Sunday, the kids really had a great time!

Ne pas avoir le cœur à faire la fête = not to be in the mood to party. Ex. : Comment veux-tu que j'aie le cœur à la fête alors que tu vas partir pendant si longtemps ? = How do you expect me to be in the mood to party when you are going to leave for such a long time? One can also say: ne pas avoir le cœur à rire , ne pas avoir le cœur à faire quelque chose , etc.

Déballer ce qu'on a sur le cœur = to get it off your chest. Ex. : Ça fait trop longtemps que mon patron m'exploite, hier je lui ai déballé tout ce que j'avais sur le cœur. = My boss has been exploiting me for far too long, yesterday I got it off my chest to him.

En avoir le cœur net = to know exactly how things are, to know the truth. Ex. : J'ai l'impression que ma femme me trompe. Je vais lui en parler, je veux en avoir le cœur net . = I have the feeling that my wife is cheating on me. I am going to speak to her about it, I want to know the truth.

Avoir mal au cœur = to feel nauseous (when one travels by car or plane, for example); it doesn't mean at all to have a health problem with one's heart.

Ne pas porter quelqu'un dans son cœur = not to hold somebody dear to one's heart. Ex. : Cette femme a été tellement désagréable chaque fois que je lui ai proposé de l'aider que je ne la porte pas dans mon cœur. = This woman has been so unpleasant each time I offered to help her that I don't hold her dear to my heart.

Ne pas avoir de cœur = to be heartless.

Avoir un cœur de pierre = to be black-hearted/cold hearted.

Avoir le cœur gros = to be sad, heavy-hearted.

Fendre le cœur à quelqu'un = to break someone's heart. This expression is well-known in reference to the famous scene in Marius , a movie based on the novel by Marcel Pagnol. In this case it was a play on words: while a few friends were playing cards, one of them, to indicate to his partner that he had some hearts in his hand (with the intention to cheat), told him: Tu me fends le cœur!

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Expressions avec les mots "ange", "diable" et "démon"

1) ANGES :

Être un ange = to be an angel, a lovely person. For example, we say it to someone who has done something special for us : Oh tu as fait la vaisselle ? Tu es un ange ! = Oh, you did the dishes? You are an angel.

Être aux anges = to be very happy. Ex. : Mon mari m'a offert un iPad mini, je suis aux anges ! = My husband gave me an iPad mini, I am so happy!

Avoir une patience d'ange = to be very patient.

Travailler comme un ange = to work very well.

Dormir comme un ange = to sleep very well.

Un ange passe = used when there is an unexpected silence among a group of people who are chatting. When such a silence occurs, someone will say after a little while: Un ange passe, and everybody smiles usually, realizing that the discussion had stalled.

Discuter du sexe des anges = to discuss how many angels could dance on the head of a pin (to focus on insignificant matters while one should concentrate on something more important). Ex.: - Alors c'était comment la réunion, vous avez enfin pris une décision à propos de cet associé qui ne veut pas collaborer ? - Tu rigoles, comme d'hab on a discuté du sexe des anges ! = - So, how was the meeting, did you finally make a decision about this associate who doesn't want to collaborate? - You must be kidding, as usual we talked how many angels could dance on the head of a pin!

2) DEMONS :

Un vrai petit diable = a bad little child, a little devil. Used mostly to talk about little boys, either to tell that they are a little naughty, either on a very indulging tone. Ex.: Regarde mon petit garçon, c'est un vrai petit diable, mais si mignon! = Look at my little boy, he is really a little devil, but so cute!

C'est un diable d'homme ! = What a guy! Used when talking about a man who has a lot of determination in what he does.

Avoir le diable au corps = to be very active, full of energy. The meaning is close to the expression above. Ex.: Cette femme a le diable au corps, elle réussit tout ce qu'elle entreprend = this woman is so active and energetic that she succeeds at everything she tries.

C'est bien le diable si … = it would be very surprising if… Ex. : C'est bien le diable s'il n'arrive pas à obtenir ce poste = It would be very surprising if he didn't get this position.

Au diable l'avarice ! = who cares about spending money! An expression used by French people when they decide to make a purchase that is not reasonable. More generally, au diable means “who cares”, “whatever”. Au diable l'avarice (= cupidity) comes from a play by Molière called L'Avare. The full quote is: Au diable l'avarice et les avaricieux!

Aller au diable = go to hell.

Tenter le diable = to take inconsiderate risks (lit.: to tempt the devil).

Demeurer/habiter au diable vauvert = to live very far away. Ex.: Je voulais bien raccompagner Jeanne, mais elle habite au diable vauvert ! = I wanted to take Jeanne home, but she lives very far away!

Faire un bruit, un vacarme de tous les diables = to make a lot of noise.

Se démener comme un (beau) diable, se donner un mal du diable = to make a lot of effort to try to obtain something.

Se faire l'avocat du diable = to play the devil's advocate.

Tirer le diable par la queue = to live from hand to mouth, to have financial problems. Ex.: Ma fille est de nouveau au chômage, elle va encore tirer le diable par la queue = My daughter is unemployed again, she will live again from hand to mouth.

Le démon du jeu = the addiction to gambling.

Réveiller les (ou de) vieux démons = to let old underlying negative feelings or attitudes resurface.

Note : It is interesting that the English expression “Speak of the devil…” doesn't translate the same way into French, but rather to: En parlant du loup… (= Speak of the wolf)…

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Expressions inspirées de l'eau et du feu

1) L'EAU :

Être comme un poisson dans l'eau = to be in one's element. Ex.: Ce job convient très bien à mon fils, il est comme un poisson dans l'eau = This jobs suits my son perfectly, he is in his element.

Mettre l'eau à la bouche = to make one's mouth water.

Mettre de l'eau dans son vin = to climb down, to tone things down. Ex.: Quand j'étais jeune, j'étais intransigeant, mais maintenant j'ai mis de l'eau dans mon vin = When I was young I was inflexible, but now I have toned it down…

Apporter de l'eau au moulin de quelqu'un = to bring grist to someone's mill.

Tomber à l'eau = to fall through, to have fallen through, to fail. Ex.: Je n'ai pas reçu l'argent que j'attendais, du coup mon projet de voyage est tombé à l'eau = I haven't received the money I was expecting, therefore, my travel plans fell through.

Rester le bec dans l'eau = not to obtain what we were expecting and to be disappointed. Lit.: to remain with one's beak in the water. Ex. Je l'ai attendue pendant 2 heures, mais je suis resté le bec dans l'eau = I waited for her for 2 hours, but I was left standing and disappointed.

Une goutte d'eau dans l'océan = a drop of water in the sea; something which has no importance and won't change anything.

La goutte d'eau qui fait déborder le vase = the last straw, the little thing that makes a situation intolerable. Ex. Quand mon patron m'a demandé d'apporter un gros dossier à la maison, c'était la goutte d'eau qui a fait déborder le vase, et j'ai démissionné = When my boss asked me to bring a thick file home, that was the last straw, and I resigned.

Il y a de l'eau dans le gaz = there is tension in the air.

Donner un coup d'épée dans l'eau = to make a wasted, useless effort.

Savoir nager entre deux eaux = to be able to please everyone, to hunt with the hounds. Lit.: to be able to swim between two waters.

Se noyer dans un verre d'eau = to make a mountain out of a molehill. Lit.: to drown in a glass of water.

Il ne faut pas jeter bébé avec l'eau du bain = one should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide = once bitten, twice shy. Lit.: a scalded cat fears cold water.

2) LE FEU :

N'y voir que du feu = to be dazzled, to understand nothing about what has happened.

Être tout feu tout flamme = to be totally enthusiastic, to burn with enthusiasm.

Avoir le feu sacré = to be driven by passion, to be totally dedicated to what we are doing (almost a synonym of the above).

Mettre sa main au feu = to assert something, to be totally convinced of it, to bet one's life on it. Ex.: Je mettrais ma main au feu que sa femme le trompe = I would bet my life on it that his wife is cheating on him.

Jeter de l'huile sur le feu = to add fuel to the fire, to aggravate a dispute or a conflict, to stir up a quarrel, to make matters worse.

Il n'y a pas le feu = there is no rush, there is no need to hurry. There is a funny Swiss version of it, used mainly around Geneva and Lausanne, close to the Lake Leman: Il n'y a pas le feu au lac !

 

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Expressions inspirées du bricolage

Enfoncer le clou = to rub it in, to insist a lot to make sure that the other person gets the point (lit.: to drive the nail home).

Être marteau = to be a little crazy. Marteau = hammer.

Péter un cable / péter les plombs = to lose one's temper (lit.: to break a cable / to trip the circuit breaker, to blow a fuse).

Quelle tête de pioche ! = What a stubborn, pig-headed bloke! (lit.: What a head of a pickaxe!). One also says: Quelle tête de mule ! Quelle tête de cochon !...

Ça ne casse pas des briques / des barres = it is not very well done, it is not very impressive (lit.: it doesn't break bricks / bars).

Donner un tuyau = to give a hint, some useful information (lit.: to give someone a pipe, a hose). Ex.: Mon amie qui rentre d'Italie m'a donné plein de bons tuyaux pour m'aider à préparer mon voyage ! = Ma friend who just came back from Italy gave me a lot of useful tips to help me prepare my trip! A very useful expression, widely used.

Donner du fil à retordre = to create many problems or complications for someone else (lit.: to give some thread to twist again). Ex.: Avant que mon fils ait trouvé un vrai travail, il m'a donné du fil à retordre. = Before my son found a real job, he gave me a lot of headaches.

Essuyer les plâtres = to experience the difficulties involved in doing something for the first time, to be a guinea pig (lit.: to wipe the plaster). Ex.: J'ai été un des premiers à lancer ce genre d'entreprise, alors j'ai essuyé les plâtres ! = I was one of the first to start such a company, therefore, I faced a few problems!

Se prendre un râteau = to fail in one's attempts to seduce someone (lit.: to get hit in the face by the handle of a rake when you step on it). This expression is not used very much now.

S'y prendre comme un manche = to be very clumsy while doing something, to do it the wrong way (lit.: to act like a handle - of a pitchfork). Ex.: Il devrait te laisser faire la cuisine, il s'y prend comme un manche ! = He should let you do the cooking, he does it all wrong/never gets it right!

Passer l'éponge = to forgive and forget (lit.: to sponge something off). Ex.: J'ai été longtemps fâchée avec mon ex-mari, mais maintenant j'ai passé l'éponge = I was angry at my ex-husband for a long time, but now I have forgiven him. A very often used expression.

Rouler une pelle = to give a French kiss (lit.: to roll a spade). A very folksy slang expression that one should avoid using with one's new French lover who might find it a little rude!

 

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Expressions qui veulent dire juste le contraire des mots utilisés

C'est pas mal = It is good. Lit.: It is not bad. It is very usual that the French use the negative to express something positive. Other examples: C'est pas trop difficile à faire = It is rather easy to do. Il ne fait pas trop chaud = It is rather chilly. C'est pas la joie = It is sad, there is an atmosphere of sadness.

Il en fait des belles ! = He does such things (meaning: he does such bad, terrible, shocking things, that will create problems in a one way or another). Lit.: He does such beautiful things! Ex.: Mon fils s'est bagarré avec un copain à l'école. Il en a encore fait des belles ! = My son had a fight again with a friend at school. He's done it again! Another way to tell this expression is: Il en fait des vertes et des pas mûres (same meaning).

C'est terrible = Here it becomes even more confusing, as terrible means both “awful, terrible”, and “superb, great, fantastic”, according to the context and the way it is said. Ex.1 : C'est terrible, mon ami et sa femme ont tous les deux été gravement blessés dans un accident = It's awful, my friend and his wife have both been seriously injured in an accident. Ex.2 : J'adore ton nouveau gadget, c'est terrible ce truc ! = I love your new gadget, it is really great, this thing! We also say frequently in French: C'est pas terrible = It is not great. Ex.: C'était pas terrible, ce film. But one also uses the expression: un enfant terrible = a bad boy.

Une bonne grippe, une bonne averse = A bad flu, a very strong downpour. Lit.: a good flu, a good downpour.

Ça fait un bon pe tit moment = It has been a long time. Lit.: It has been a short time. Ex.: Qu'est-ce que tu deviens ? Ça fait un bon petit moment que tu n'es pas venu nous voir ! = What have you been up to? You haven't been to see us for such a very long time.

C'est du joli ! C'est du beau ! C'est du propre ! Bravo ! = That's really bad! Shame on you! Lit.: That's pretty! That's beautiful! That's clean! Ex.: Eh bien c'est du joli, tu as vu dans quel état tu as mis ta robe, elle est couverte de boue ! = Whow, that's bad, did you see what you did with your dress, it is covered with mud!

C'est intelligent ce que tu as fait = What you did is stupid. Lit.: What you did is very intelligent. Ex.: Tu as jeté ce bout de papier ? C'est intelligent ce que tu as fait, c'était une recette que je voulais essayer ce soir ! = Did you throw away this little piece of paper? What you did is stupid, this was a recipe that I wanted to try this evening!

T'es sympa ! Sympa ! = You are not nice! That's not nice! Lit.: You are nice! Ex.: Tu es parti sans moi hier soir, et je t'ai attendu ! T'es sympa! / Sympa ! = You left without me last night, and I have waited for you! You are not nice! / That's not nice!

Il pleut, pour changer… = It is raining, as usual. Lit.: It is raining, for a change. This slightly sarcastic expression can be used for anything. Other examples: Mon fils est arrivé en retard à l'école, pour changer = My son arrived late at school, as usual. Le vendeur a été désagréable, pour changer = The sales assistant has been unpleasant, as usual. Etc…

Ce n'est pas évident = It isn't easy. While not quite the opposite, this commonly used expression is often misunderstood. C'est pas évident de s'adapter à une nouvelle culture.= It's not easy to adapt to a new culture.

Ça fait drôle = that's strange, weird. Another way to say it in French is : Ça fait bizarre. Ex.: J'ai perdu mon meilleur copain, ça fait drôle de penser qu'il n'est plus là = I have lost my best friend, it's strange to think that he is not here any more.

Même pas peur = It's an ironic way to say I am really afraid but I am pretending not to be afraid.

 

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Expressions avec le verbe "tomber"

Tomber malade = to fall/to get sick.

Tomber enceinte = to get pregnant.

Tomber raide (colloquial) = to fall like a ton of bricks, to crash to the ground; tomber raide mort = to fall dead.

Tomber amoureux/amoureuse = to fall in love.

Tomber à pic = to happen/to occur just at the right time. Ex.: Cette promo tombe à pic, j'allais acheter mon billet. = This special discount comes at just the right time, I was about to buy my ticket. See also below.

Tomber pile, tomber pile poil = to be right, to happen/to succeed exactly as it should. Ex.: J'ai eu de la chance pour mon exam, je suis tombée pile/pile poil sur le sujet que je connaissais le mieux. = I was lucky on my exam, I got the very topic I knew the best. Note : In practice, tomber à pic or tomper pile / pile poil are often used as synoyms with the meaning : to happen/to take place exactly at the right time.

Ça tombe bien ! = That's just the ticket/That's just perfect/The timing is just right. Ex.: Tu veux venir avec moi samedi prendre un café au Café Flore? Ah, oui, ça tombe bien. Je voulais justement aller voir la superbe librairie à côté. = Do you want to have a coffee with me at the Café Flore on Saturday? Oh, yes, that's just perfect. I was just thinking of going to that great bookstore right next door. Note: We also say, ça tombe mal when something doesn't work out or isn't convenient.

Tomber sur un bec = to hit a snag, an unforeseen obstacle. Lit.: to fall on a beak.

Tomber la veste = 1) to take off one's jacket (because we want to show that we feel very comfortable/relaxed, or to adopt a more casual attitude); 2) to prepare oneself for a fight - not very frequently used with this meaning.

Tomber dans les pommes = to faint (popular way to say : s'évanouir).

Tomber les quatre fers en l'air = to fall flat on one's back. Can also have a figurative meaning of falling in disgrace. Lit.: to fall down and with the four horseshoes in the air (it reflects the idea of a horse falling on its back).

Tomber comme un cheveu sur la soupe = to come like a bolt out of the blue (lit.: to fall like a hair into the soup).

Tomber comme des mouches = originally meant: to drop like flies, for many victims to fall all at once, like on a battlefield, for example; but nowadays it is mainly used when many people say yes to, or are seduced by someone. Ex.: Je ne sais pas comment il fait, avec lui les filles tombent comme des mouches ! = I don't know how he does it, with him the girls cannot resist.

Tomber à l'eau = to fall through, to have fallen through, to fail. Ex.: Je n'ai pas reçu l'argent que j'attendais, du coup mon projet de voyage est tombé à l'eau = I haven't received the money I was expecting, therefore, my travel plans fell through.

Tomber des cordes = to rain cats and dogs.

Ne pas être tombé de la dernière pluie = to be experienced, to be well aware, informed.

Tomber des nues = to be totally surprised, to be stunned. Lit.: to fall from clouds.

Tomber dans le panneau = to fall into the trap.

Tomber sur un os = to hit a snag. Lit.: to fall on a bone.

Ça tombe sous le sens = it stands to reason, it is obvious. Ex.: Tu devrais savoir qu'il ne reste plus rien le dernier jour des soldes, ça tombe sous le sens ! = You should know that there is nothing left the last day of the sales, this is obvious!

Les bras m'en tombent ! = I am flabbergasted! I am speechless! Ex.: Marc va finalement se marier ? Les bras m'en tombent. = Mark is finally going to get married? I am flabbergasted.

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Expressions avec le verbe "mettre"

Mettre la main à la pâte = to get involved, to join in, to participate actively to any activity. Ex.: Quand j'ai dit à Alain que j'allais aider ma mère à déménager ce week-end, il a de suite proposé de mettre la main à la pâte. = When I told Alain that I was going to help my mother move this week-end, he immediately offered to join in. Lit.: to put one's hand in the dough.

Mettre/Ajouter son grain de sel = to add one's own opinion to a discussion. Lit.: to add one's grain of salt.

Mettre du beurre dans les épinards = to bring in extra revenue which comes as a relief. Lit.: to put butter in (a dish of) spinach.

S'en mettre plein la lampe = to eat a lot, to eat with excess. Lit.: to fill the lamp (the stomach).

Mettre les pieds dans le plat = to put your foot in your mouth. Lit.: to put one's feet in the plate.

Mettre les bouchées doubles = to work twice as long (in view of finishing a project on time). Lit.: To put double mouthfuls in one's mouth.

Mettre de l'eau dans son vin = to become more moderate, to climb down, to tone things down. Ex.: Ma mère est beaucoup moins critique envers mon mari, elle a mis de l'eau dans son vin. = My mother is much less critical toward my husband, she has toned things down. Lit.: to put water in one's wine.

Mettre sa main au feu = to assert something, to be totally convinced of it, to bet one's life on it. Ex.: Je mettrais ma main au feu qu'il a menti à propos de ce qu'il a fait ce week-end. = I would bet my life on it that he has lied about what he did last week-end. Lit.: to put one's hand in the fire.

Se mettre le doigt dans l'œil = to be entirely/totally mistaken. Ex.: Désolée, je me suis mis le doigt dans l'œil, je croyais qu'il fallait tout terminer pour ce soir ! = Sorry, I was totally mistaken, I thought we had to finish everything by this evening! Lit.: to put one's finger in one's eye.

Mettre en boîte = to tease (someone). Syn.: faire marcher, taquiner.

Mettre à sac = to plunder, to steal, to clean out. Ex.: Mon ex-femme a littéralement mis à sac tout l'appartement avant de partir ! = Before she left, my ex-wife literally cleaned out the whole apartment!

Mettre le holà = to put a stop. Ex.: Les enfants exagèrent de passer tout l'après-midi devant la télé, j'ai mis le holà. = The kids exaggerate to spend the whole afternoon in front of the TV, I put a stop to it. This expression comes from the language of the carters and the coach drivers who used to shout Holà! to get the horses to stop.

Mettre cartes sur table = to tell the facts as they are without hiding anything. Lit.: to lay one's cards on the table.

Mettre les choses noir sur blanc = to put everything straight, to make things very clear.

Mettre la clé sous la porte = to close a business, to go bankrupt. Lit.: to put the key under the door.

Mettre les voiles = to take off, to leave. Elle a mis les voiles avec le meilleur ami de son mari. = She has run off with her husband's best friend. Lit.: to put the up the sails.

Se mettre au vert = to get away from a stressing place, to leave for the countryside. Ex.: La retraite, c'est le moment de se mettre au vert ! = Retirement is time to leave for the countryside (or a more relaxing place)! Lit.: to put oneself in the green.

 

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Expressions avec le verbe "tenir"

Tenir chaud = to keep someone warm. Ex.: J'aime bien cet anorak, il me tient chaud quand je pars en randonnée en montagne. = I like this anorak, it keeps me warm when I go hiking in the mountains.

Tenir au chaud =

1) to keep (a dish) warm. Ex.: Je vous tiens le gratin au chaud pendant que vous mangez le hors-d'œuvre ? = Shall I keep the gratin warm (i.e. in the oven) for you while you eat the appetizer?

2) to be very considerate to someone (usually with the intention to take advantage of this person). Ex.: Le vendeur tient ce client au chaud car il a un bon espoir qu'il lui achète une voiture. = The salesman is very considerate with this client as he hopes that he will buy a car from him.

Tenir le bon bout = to be on the point of succeeding/to finish something soon. Ex.: Après une semaine à travailler sur ce projet, je tiens le bon bout ! After one week of work on this project, I am almost ready to finish! Lit.: to hold the right end.

Tenir le coup = to cope, to be on the right track. Ex.: Ce qu'elle fait est très dur mais elle tient le coup. = What she is doing is very difficult but she is coping (hanging in there).

Tenir au courant = to keep informed/posted/up to date. Ex.: Si tu as des nouvelles sur ce nouveau job, tu me tiens au courant ? = Si you have any news about this new job, you'll keep me posted?

Tenir la route = to make sense, to hold water. Ex.: Ce que me raconte mon mari quand il est en retard ne tient pas la route ! = What my husband tells me when he is late doesn't make any sense!

Se tenir à carreau = to watch one's step, to be on one's guard. Ex.: Quand le pdg est là, on se tient tous à carreau. = When the CEO is there, we all watch our step.

Tenir la jambe (à quelqu'un) = to buttonhole (someone) for a long time, to bore someone with endless conversation. Ex.: Chaque fois que je rencontre Marie au marché, elle me tient la jambe pendant des heures en m'expliquant tout ce qui lui est arrivé dans la semaine ! = Each time I meet Marie at the market, she buttonholes me for hours while explaining to me everything that has happened to her during the week!. Lit.: to hold the leg. Note: It is not at all the same as "to pull one's leg."

Tenir la chandelle = to play gooseberry, to be the fifth wheel, to be present when some people make love without participating because you really don't belong… Most of the time it is used in the negative. Ex.: Laisse ces jeunes tranquilles ! Pourquoi tu veux les rejoindre dans leur hôtel ? Tu ne vas pas tenir la chandelle ! = Leave these young people in peace! Why do you want to join them in their hotel? You aren't going to play gooseberry! Lit.: To hold the candle.

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Expressions avec le verbe "passer"

1) DIVERSES MANIERES D'UTILISER CE VERBE :

Tu me passes le sel ? = Can you pass me the salt?

Vous êtes prêts à passer la commande ? = Are you ready to order? (in a restaurant).

Passe-moi cette robe, je vais la passer. = Hand me that dress, I will try it on.

Ça se passe comment ton nouveau travail ? = How's it going with your new job?

Le dernier Woody Allen passe au cinéma à côté. = The latest Woody Allen is playing at the theater close by.

Tu es passé au magasin hier ? Je ne t'ai pas vu, tu es passé par où ? Passe-moi un coup de fil la prochaine fois ! = Did you go to the shop yesterday? I didn't see you, which way did you take ? Give me a call, next time!

Tu passes quand ton exam ? = When will you take your exam? Note that "to pass" an exam is : réussir à un examen .

Où vas-tu passer tes vacances ? = Where will you go (Where are you going) for your vacation?

Mon fils est tellement amoureux qu'il a encore passé une nuit blanche . Mais ça lui passera avec le temps ! = My son is so much in love that he had a sleepless night again. But after some time it will pass!

2) EXPRESSIONS :

Passer comme une lettre à la poste = to go (through) smoothly. Lit.: to go through such as a letter in the mail box of the Post Office. Used in many different circumstances. Ex.: Mes parents ont de suite accepté que je dorme chez ma copine, c'est passé comme une lettre à la poste ! = My parents have immediately accepted that I slept at my friend's house, it went very smoothly! Pour son troisième bébé, l'accouchement s'est passé comme une lettre à la poste! = For h er third baby, it went very smoothly!

Passer du coq à l'âne = to change subjects (Lit.: to go from the rooster to the donkey).

Un ange passe = used when there is an unexpected silence among a group of people who are chatting. When such a silence occurs, someone will say after a little while: Un ange passe, and everybody smiles usually, realizing that the discussion had stalle d (Lit.: an angel is passing by.)

Passer l'éponge = to forgive and forget (lit.: to sponge something off). Ex.: Il n'est plus fâché avec son ancien patron, il a passé l'éponge = He is not mad anymore with his ex boss, now he has forgiven him.

Passer un savon = to be given a roasting (Lit.: to pass a soap).

Passer au peigne fin = to search thoroughly (Lit.: To go through something with a fine-toothed comb).

Passer à la casserole = an expression used by women who reluctantly and unenthusiastically allow their husbands to make love to them. It's a drudgery. Lit.: to get to the pots and pans…

Ça passe ou ça casse (familiar) = either things work out, or everything will fail.

Passer l'arme à gauche = to kick the bucket, to die (Lit.: to pass the gun to the left side).

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Expressions démontrant les contradictions entre l'anglais et le français

1) EXPRESSIONS :

Il y a un risque d'orage. = There is a chance of rain.

Par un coup de chance (ou : par hasard), je suis tombée sur ma meilleure amie ! = I met my best friend by accident!

Elle va filer à l'anglaise. = She is going to take a French leave.

Une capote anglaise (ou : un préservatif) = A French letter (or: a condom).

Cette chambre d'hôtel m'a coûté la peau des fesses (buttocks). = I paid through the nose for this hotel room.

Tu m'as coupé l'herbe sous le pied. = You took the words right out of my mouth.

Ne fais pas la fine bouche ! = Don't turn up your nose!

Je suis à côté de mes pompes (shoes). = I am out of my mind.

Arrête de jeter de l' huile sur le feu ! = Stop adding fuel to the fire!

Il a fait un chèque en bois. = He wrote a rubber check.

Tu as mangé du lion ? = Do you have a tiger in your tank?

J'ai un chat dans la gorge. = I have a frog in my throat.

On a d'autres chats à fouetter (to whip). = We have other fish to fry.

Je suis au bout du rouleau. = I am at the end of my rope.

C'est un travail de Romain. = It is a Herculean task - a Greek task, then?

Tu ne vas pas boire en Suisse ? = You aren't going to go Dutch?

Elle broie du noir. = She feels blue.

Ce type est un blanc-bec. = That guy is a greenhorn.

2) PROVERBES :

Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide. = A burnt child dreads the fire.

Il ne faut pas réveiller le chat qui dort. = Let a sleeping dog lie.

Il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l' ours (bear) avant de l'avoir tué. = Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

Il ne faut pas mettre la charrue avant les bœufs. = Don't put the cart before the horse.

Quand les poules auront des dents. = When pigs begin to fly.

L'homme ne vit pas que d' eau fraîche. = Man does not live by bread alone.

Une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps. = One swallow does not make a summer.

Loin des yeux loin du cœur. = Out of sight out of mind.

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Citations sur le thème de la liberté d'expression

1) CITATIONS DE DESSINATEURS DE CHARLIE HEBDO ATTAQUES LE 7 JANVIER 2015 :

Je préfère mourir debout que vivre à genoux. = I prefer to die standing than to spend my life on my knees. This quote is from Charb, Director of the magazine. Il has been widely reproduced in the social media and on posters and banners. For example a giant banner was displayed on the pediment of the city hall of Tours.

L'humour est le plus court chemin d'un homme à un autre. = Humo u r is the shortest way from one man to another. This is what Wolinski , the more senior (80 years old) cartoonist, and one of the most famous in France, used to say.

Je n'ai pas l'impression d'égorger quelqu'un avec un feutre. = I don't have the impression that I am cutting someone's throat with a felt-tipped pen. This quote is from Cabu (77 years old), an equally famous and respected cartoonist.

La caricature est un témoin de la démocratie. = Caricature is a testimony to democracy. This is a quote from Tignous , another senior cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo.

Un bon dessin vaut mieux qu'un long discours. = A good drawing is better than a long speech. This is a statement by Honoré , another cartoonist from the Charlie Hebdo team.

2) CITATIONS CELEBRES : 

Que l'on touche à la liberté et Paris se met en colère. = If one threatens freedom, Paris rises up in anger. This is the beginning of a song written in 1996 by Maurice Vidalin with the music of Maurice Jarre, which was the main musical theme of the movie Paris brûle-t-il ? (Is Paris burning?), by film-maker René Clément, about the Liberation of Paris in August 1944.

Celui qui vit dans la crainte, ne sera jamais libre. = He who lives in fear will never be free. This quote from the Roman Poet Horace has also been seen on posters or banners.

Quand la liberté d'expression n'existe plus, c'est la liberté de pensée que l'on jette en prison. = When freedom of expression ceases to exist, it is freedom of thought that we throw in jail. A quote from Pascal Mourot, Secretary-General of the Movement SOS Reporters, used on many other occasions.

Je ne suis pas d'accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire. = I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it*. This famous quote is attributed to Voltaire, but in reality he never exactly phrased it this way, even if there is no doubt that it corresponds perfectly to his philosophy. And in fact, before being widely quoted in French, it was used for the first time in English. It appears in the book The Friends of Voltaire published in 1906 by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym of S. G. Tallentyre, and was used with the intention of summarizing Voltaire's position on free speech.

*The expression "to the death" isn't used by the French when they refer to this "quotation".

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Expressions avec le verbe "donner"

Donner un coup de main = to lend a hand.

Donner un coup de pédale / d'accélérateur = to increase one's effort or one's production.

Donner un coup de collier = to make a big effort (usually to finish something more quickly), to put one's backs into it.

Donner un coup de fouet = a boost to become more energetic. Ex.: Quand je bois un café après le déjeuner, ça me donne un coup de fouet ! = When I have a coffee after lunch, it gives me a boost!

Se donner un mal du diable = to make an enormous effort to try to obtain something.

Donner un coup d'épée dans l'eau = to make a wasted, useless effort.

Donner un coup de frein = to reduce considerably (one's expenditures, for example).

Donner un rendez-vous = to set a date for/to fix an appointment.

Donner le change à quelqu'un = to pull the wool over somebody's eyes.

Donner à réfléchir = to be thought provoking.

Donner de la voix = to speak out, to make oneself heard.

Donner un coup de téléphone / un coup de fil = to make a phone call/give someone a ring.

Donner un tuyau = to give a hint, some useful information. Lit.: to give someone a pipe, a hose. A very useful expression, widely used.

Donner du fil à retordre = to create many problems or complications for someone else. Lit.: to give some thread to twist again. Ex.: Avant que mon fils ait trouvé un vrai travail, il m'a donné du fil à retordre. = Before my son found a real job, he gave me a lot of headaches.

Donner du grain à moudre = to give someone something to think about, something to chew on (lit.: to give grain to be ground/milled.

Donner carte blanche à quelqu'un = to entrust, to give full trust and power to someone to do something (a professional partner, most often). Ex.: Maintenant c'est lui qui s'occupe des relations à la clientèle, je lui ai donné carte blanche. = Now he is the one who deals with the client relations, I gave him full authority.

Donner sa langue au chat = to admit that you can't find the answer, to remain silent. Lit.: The cat's got my/his/her tongue. Ex.: Je ne vois pas du tout de quoi tu veux parler, je donne ma langue au chat. = I don't see at all what you mean, I have anything to say (and I'm waiting for you to tell me what all this is about…).

Donner des noms d'oiseaux à quelqu'un = to insult someone. Lit.: to give birds' names to someone.

Donner de la confiture à des cochons = to throw pearls before swine. Lit.: to give jam to pigs.

S'en donner à cœur joie = to do something wholeheartedly, to have a great time. Ex.: Dimanche, les enfants s'en sont donnés à cœur joie ! = Sunday, the kids really had a great time!

Je vous le donne en mille = You'll never guess what. Ex .: Tu sais qui j'ai rencontré hier ? Je te le donne en mille. = You know who I met yesterday? You'll never guess what.

On lui donnerai le bon Dieu sans confession = to trust someone completely, to think that butter wouldn't melt in someone's mouth. Often used in a negative way. Ex.: Je suis vraiment déçue par ce mec, je lui aurais donné le bon Dieu sans confession ! = I am very disappointed by that guy, I trusted him so much!

 

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Expressions avec le mot "air"

Un courant d'air = a draught (UK), a draft (USA).

Un trou d'air = an air pocket.

Un appel d'air = a draught, but can also be an irresistible attraction towards something.

Un baptême de l'air = a very first flight in a plane, an introductory flight.

Prendre l'air = to get some fresh air, to go for a walk, to go outside. Lit.: To take the air.

Changer d'air = get a change of air, get a change of atmosphere.

Un air de musique = a tune.

Avoir un air de famille = to have a family resemblance.

C'est dans l'air du temps = it is in the spirit of the times.

Avoir l'air = to appear, to seem… N'avoir l'air de rien = to do something very discreetly (it doesn't look like it, you wouldn't think).

Être tête en l'air = to have one's head in the clouds.

Prendre de/des grands airs = to take on airs.

Brasser de l'air = to talk a lot of hot air.

Il y a de l'orage dans l'air = there is a storm on the horizon. This expression, as in English, can also be used in a figurative sense, meaning that there is tension, for example in a couple, a classroom, etc.

Ne pas manquer d'air = to have the nerve, to have a lot of cheek. Ex.: Il ne manque pas d'air, le nouvel employé ! Il n'a encore rien fait et il demande déjà une augmentation. = He has a lot of nerve, the new employee! He has done nothing yet, and already he asks for a raise.

Faire des promesses en l'air = to make promises that won't be kept.

Foutre en l'air quelque chose = to screw something up.

S'envoyer en l'air, faire une partie de jambes en l'air = to make love (colloquial).

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Expressions avec le verbe "rester"

Rester sur sa faim = to leave a little disappointed, not fully satisfied. Lit.: to remain on one's hunger. Ex.: J'ai trouvé intéressant ce reportage sur le Viet Nam. Mais le journaliste aurait pu donner un meilleur rappel historique. Je suis un peu restée sur ma faim. = I found this news story on Vietnam interesting. But the journalist could have given a better historical overview. I was left a little disappointed/wanting more.

Rester en travers de la gorge = to stick in one's throat. Ex.: Je n'en suis pas revenue de ce que mon patron m'a dit ! Ça m'est resté en travers de la gorge. = I couldn't believe what my boss told me! it stuck in my throat.

Rester bouche bée = to be speechless. Lit.: to remain with your mouth wide open.

En rester le cul par terre = to stand there flabbergasted, astounded. Lit.: to remain with your ass on the floor. Ex.: Si tu avais vu la surprise que mon mari m'a fait pour mon anniversaire, j'en suis restée le cul par terre ! = If you had seen the surprise that my husband did for me for my Birthday, I stood there flabbergasted!

Rester le bec dans l'eau = not to obtain what we were expecting and to be disappointed. Lit.: to remain with one's beak in the water. Ex.: Je l'ai attendue pendant 2 heures, mais je suis resté le bec dans l'eau. = I waited for her for 2 hours, but I was left standing there and disappointed.

Rester en rade = to be left stranded, to be stuck. Lit.: To be left at the harbour. Ex.: Ils sont partis sans moi, je suis restée en rade ! = They left without me, I was left stranded!

Rester de marbre / rester de glace = to remain impassible. Lit.: to stay like marble/to stay like ice.

Rester sur ses gardes = to keep alert/posted.

Rester sur ses positions = to stand one's ground, to stick to one's guns, to refuse to change one's mind on something.

Rester fidèle à soi-même = to stay true to oneself.

En rester là = to put a stop to something (a discussion, a controversy, an action, a relation, etc.). Ex.: Bon, ça suffit, on a assez parlé de cette bêtise que tu as faite, on en reste là. = Well, that's enough, we have talked enough about this silly thing you did/mistake you made, let's leave it at that.

Y rester (slang) = to kick the bucket, to check out, to die. Ex.: C'était affreux quand ma voiture a dérapé au bord du torrent. J'ai cru que j'allais y rester ! = It was awful when my car skidded at the edge of the stream/torrent. I thought I was going to die/that I was done for!

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Expressions très bizarres

Va voir là-bas si j'y suis ! = Go away, get lost! Lit.: Go see over there if I'm there. The French use this expression when they are a little annoyed by someone who is hanging around them or talking to them when they are trying to concentrate on something. It's a way to make them understand that they are bothering them. However, it can also be used in a nice way, too, for example, when a mother is wrapping a Christmas present for her son and he arrives just at the wrong moment. Using this expression instead of more harsh ones, such as Dégage !, can make the child understand that she is preparing a surprise for him.

Ça (ne) mange pas de pain. = It can't hurt, it can't do any harm. Lit.: That doesn't eat bread. This is very widely used by the French, but few of them know that it comes from the 17 th century, when bread was among the most precious food items for a household. Ex.: Tu dis que tu n'as pas beaucoup de chance d'avoir une augmentation ? Mais ça mange pas de pain d'essayer ! = You say that you have little chance of getting a raise? But there is no harm in trying!

Tu parles Charles ! (fam.) = Hey, sure bro!/Right!/Ja, sure! Lit.: You are talking, Charles! Don't ask us why the name Charles is used in this expression, except, maybe, for the fact that it rhymes with parles… Ex.: Tu penses que je te crois quand tu promets que tu vas venir me voir tous les dimanches ? Tu parles, Charles! = You think that I believe you when you promise that you will come visit me every Sunday? Hey, sure bro!

On n'est pas sorti de l'auberge. = We aren't out of the woods yet. Lit.: We aren't out of the inn yet. This very frequently used expression may originate from the slang used by prisoners who, in the 19 th century, sometimes said auberge to mean jail. Ex.: Qu'est-ce qu'il est dur à préparer, ce rapport ! On n'est pas sorti de l'auberge. = How difficult it is to prepare this report! We aren't out of the woods yet.

Courir sur le haricot. = To get on someone's nerves. Lit: To run on someone's bean. Several possible origins of this expression are given, but none is clear or certain enough to be worth mentioning! Ex.: J'en ai marre de mon voisin qui est toujours en train de me demander quelque chose, il commence à me courir sur le haricot, ce mec ! = I am fed up with my neighbor who is always asking me questions, he's starting to get on my nerves, that guy!

Ça vaut son pesant de cacahuètes. = That's priceless, that's pretty good, that cannot be better (usually an ironic way when talking about something which has no value, or about some ridiculous or worthless action someone does). Lit.: It is worth its weight in peanuts. Ex.: Il faut voir quand mon fils essaye de ranger sa chambre ! Ça vaut son pesant de cacahuètes. = You should see when my son tries to clean his room! That's priceless.

Coincer la bulle = To bum around, to rest on one's ears, to do nothing, to be lazy… Lit.: to wedge/box in the bubble. Ex.: Mon fils dit qu'il adore son nouveau boulot, mais je ne suis pas trop contente : il passe son temps à coincer la bulle ! = My son says that he loves his new job, but I'm not too happy: he spend his time doing nothing!

C'est une autre paire de manches = That's another story, that's something else all together, meaning: something that one may be dreaming but that may never happen. Lit.: It's another pair of sleeves. Ex.: J'aimerais bien tenter le doctorat après la maîtrise, mais c'est une autre paire de manches ! = I would love to try doing a Ph.D. after my masters, but that is something else all together!

Avoir les jetons = To be scared, to have the jitters. Lit.: to have the tokens. Ex.: J'ai les jetons, la nuit, depuis que ma voisine m'a raconté des histoires d'attaques nocturnes dans le quartier. = I'm scared at night since my neighbor told me stories of night attacks in the neighborhood.

Être un peu long à la détente = To react slowly to something. Lit.: To be a bit slow on the trigger. Ex.: Ne t'inquiète pas, mon collègue va répondre à ton email, il est seulement un peu long à la détente. = Don't worry, my colleague will reply to your email, he just always reacts slowly to anything.

Je ne vais pas faire long feu ici = I will be leaving soon, I won't stay here very long. Lit.: I will not make a long fire here. It is mainly used when you don't really like the place where you are or the party to which you have been invited. Ex.: Cette réunion est vraiment trop barbante (fam.), je ne vais pas faire long feu ici ! = This meeting is really too boring, I won't stay here very long!

Ne pas avoir inventé la poudre = To be a little dumb, not to be very smart/intelligent. Lit.: Not to have invented gunpowder. Another version is : Ne pas avoir inventé le fil à couper le beurre. Lit.: not to have invented the thread/wire used to cut butter. Ex.: C'est est un mec sympa mais il n'a pas inventé la poudre / le fil à couper le beurre. = He is a nice guy but he is a little dumb.

Tirer des plans sur la comète = To build castles in the air, to make plans/scenarios that may very well be unrealistic. Lit.: To draw plans on the comet. Ex.: Tu ne dois pas trop faire attention à ce que Jeremy raconte: il n'a même pas encore obtenu le poste de directeur à New York qu'il tire déjà des plans sur la comète. = You shouldn't pay too much attention to what Jeremy says: he hasn't yet got the position of director of the New York branch but he is already making unrealistic plans.

Voir venir avec ses gros sabots = Now we are finally getting to the point, to not be very subtle in one's intentions. Lit.: I see (you/him/them…) coming wearing your big clogs. It can also be used in the third person when talking about someone. Ex.: Mon patron a commencé par me promettre une promotion, mais je l'ai vu venir avec ses gros sabots, il voulait surtout me donner beaucoup plus de travail ! = My boss started by promising me a promotion, but I saw him coming with his big clogs, he really wanted to give me a lot more work!

Raser les murs = to make oneself very discrete, to keep a low profile, to hug the walls. Lit.: To shave the walls. Ex.: J'ai eu peur qu'on me demande de monter sur le podium pendant la conférence, alors j'ai rasé les murs. = I was afraid that I'd be asked to go up on the podium during the conference, therefore I kept a low profile.

C'est une histoire à dormir debout = It is a tall tale/story, a cock-and-bull story. Lit.: A story to make you sleep standing up. Ex.: Qu'est-ce que tu me racontes ? Tu n'as pas pu rentrer plus tôt à cause d'une panne de voiture alors que tu es allé travailler en métro ? C'est une histoire à dormir debout ! = What are you telling me? You couldn't come home earlier because of the car broke down whereas you took the subway to go to work? That's a tall tale/a crock of bull.

Je ne peux pas être au four et au moulin = I am unable to be in two places at the same time. Lit.: I cannot be at the oven and in the mill. Ex.: - Maman, tu peux m'aider à faire mes devoirs ? - D'accord mais attends 5 mn, je suis en train de donner un bain à ton frère. Je ne peux pas être au four et au moulin ! = - Mom, could you help me with my homework? - OK, but wait 5 minutes, I am giving your brother a bath. I can't be in two places at the same time!

Ce n'est pas la mer à boire = it is not as bad as we might think, it is not so difficult. Lit.: It is not like having the sea to drink. Ex.: Je ne comprends pas pourquoi mon fils n'arrive pas à changer un pneu sur son vélo. Ce n'est pas la mer à boire ! = I don't understand why my son is unable to change a tire on his bike. It is not that difficult!

Avoir des casseroles au cul = to be haunted by a few scandals, corruption or illegal affairs, to have skeletons in one's closet. Lit: T o have saucepans hung on one's ass. A less vulgar version is: Traîner des casseroles (to drag saucepans behind you). These expressions are very commonly used when talking about politicians. Ex.: Il espère devenir maire de la ville, avec toutes les casseroles au cul qu'il a / avec toutes les casseroles qu'il traîne ? = He hopes to become the mayor of the city, with all the skeletons in his closet?

Ça me gonfle... Il, elle me  gonfle... = This is annoying me... He, she is annoying me.... Lit.: This makes me inflate. Ex.: Ça me gonfle vraiment d'aller chez tes parents tous les dimanches ! = It really annoys me to go to your parents' every Sunday! Qu'est-ce qu'il me gonfle, le prof de maths ! = How annoying he is, the maths teacher!

Je ne me suis pas dégonflé(e) = I didn't chicken out. Lit.: I didn't deflate. Ex.: Quand mon patron m'a convoqué, je lui ai tout dit, je ne me suis pas dégonflé ! = When my boss called me in, I told him everthing, I didn't chicken out!

Va te faire cuire un œuf !... Aller se faire cuire un œuf = Leave me alone!... To leave (someone) alone. (fam.) Lit.: Go cook an egg for yourself. This expression should not to used too much, as it may be badly received by the person to whom you are saying it! Ex.: Mon nouveau collègue me pose trop de questions, j'en ai marre! J'ai bien envie de lui dire d'aller se faire cuire un œuf... = My new colleague asks me too many questions, I am fed up! I really feel like telling him to leave me alone.

Être dans ses petits souliers = To feel uncomfortable, ill at ease, often in the case of an embarrassing situation. Lit.: To be in one's small shoes. Ex.: Quand le prof m'a appelée pour venir faire l'exercice au tableau devant tout le monde, j'étais dans mes petits souliers ! = When the teacher called me to come and do the exercise on the blackboard in front of everybody, I was very uncomfortable!

Mettre le paquet = To put everything into it, to give it all you've got, to do everything to reach a goal. Lit.: To put the package. Ex.: C'est fini ! J'y ai mis le paquet et j'ai terminé mon rapport à temps ! = It is done! I put everything into it and I finished my report on time!

Chercher des poux dans  la tête = To try to pick a fight, to criticize for nothing or for little details. Lit.: To look for lice in someone's head. Ex.: Le nouveau chef de service est vraiment susceptible, il vaut mieux ne pas lui chercher des poux dans la tête ! = The new manager is easily offended, it's better not to try to pick a fight with him! Ma belle-mère te cherche tout le temps des poux dans la tête ! = My mother-in-law is always criticizing me for nothing!

Ronger son frein = To champ at the bit, to barely contain one's impatience, disappointment, with some anger usually. Lit.: To gnaw one's bit. Ex.: Mon patron m'a promis une augmentation bientôt. Je n'ai pas d'autre choix que de ronger mon frein. = My boss promised me a raise soon. I have no other choice than champing at the bit.

Sauter au plafond = To be extremely/highly surprised by a bit of news, either because the person is very happy, or because he/she is angry (shocked). Lit.: to jump to the ceiling. Ex.: Quand mon mari m'a annoncé qu'on allait à New York, j'ai sauté au plafond ! = When my husband told me that we were going to New York, I was so surprised! J'ai sauté au plafond quand mon fils m'a dit qu'il voulait devenir militaire ! = I was so shocked when my son told me that he wanted to become a soldier!

Couper le sifflet à quelqu'un = To interrupt someone abruptly by telling something very surprising, or shocking, to which the person doesn't know how to respond. Lit.: To cut someone's whistle.  Ex.: Je commençais à tenter d'expliquer à ma femme que j'avais une maîtresse mais elle m'a coupé le sifflet en me disant, toute contente, qu'elle était enceinte. = I was starting to try confessing to my wife that I had a mistress when she interrupted me abruptly to tell me, very happy, that she was pregnant!

Mettre des  bâtons dans les roues de quelqu'un = To throw a monkey wrench into someone's business, to create difficulties for someone who is trying to accomplish something. Lit.: To put sticks in someone's wheels. Ex.: Chaque fois que j'entreprends un nouveau projet qui permettrait d'améliorer les résultats de l'entreprise, mon associé me met des bâtons dans les roues ! = Each time I start a new project that would improve the profit of the company, my associate throws a monkey wrench into it!

Cracher dans la soupe = To bite the hand that feeds you. Lit.: To spit in the soup. Ex.: Ma fille n'arrête pas de se plaindre de ne pas avoir les moyens de se prendre un appart. Elle devrait être reconnaissante de ce qu'on fait pour elle plutôt que de cracher dans la soupe ! = My daughter doesn't stop complaining that she cannot afford to have her own flat. She should be grateful for what we do for her instead of biting the hand that feeds her!

Mordre la ligne blanche = To drive over the unbroken line (on a street). Lit.: To bite the white line. In the past, the white line was yellow, as in the cartoon. Many French people still use this expression  that was used at that time, mordre la ligne jaune as it takes a long time to get used to such changes...

Être suspendu aux lèvres de quelqu'un = To hang onto someone's every word. Lit.: to be hanging on someone's lips. Ex.: Ce que nous a expliqué le prof aujourd'hui était tellement passionnant qu'on était tous suspendus à ses lèvres ! = What the teacher explained to us today was so captivating that we all hung onto every word!

Chausser ses lunettes = To put on one's glasses. What is surprising, and amusing, here is that the verb chausser is normally used only when we put our shoes on...
  
Les bras m'en tombent = I am flabbergasted! Lit.: My arms are falling off (from stupefaction). Ex.: C'est incroyable ce que mon fils peut me mentir, les bras m'en tombent quand j'écoute ses histoires ! = It's unbelievable how my son can lie to me, I am flabbergasted when I hear his lies!
  
Avoir la tête ailleurs = To have one's mind on other things. Lit.: To have your head somewhere else. This kind of thing often happens  in a classroom or during a boring meeting...

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Expressions avec des vêtements

Connaître un endroit comme sa poche = to know a place like the back of your hand. Lit.: to know a place like one's pocket. Ex.: Je connais cette ville comme ma poche car j'y suis né ! = I know this city like the back of my hand because I was born there!

S'en moquer/s'en soucier comme de sa première chemise = to not care less. Lit.: to care as much as one's first shirt. More familiar, almost crude, ways to say it are: S'en ficher/s'en foutre comme de sa première chemise. Ex.: —Est-ce que tu sais si ton ex a finalement vendu votre ancienne maison ? Aucune idée, je m'en moque/soucie/fiche/fous comme de ma première chemise ! = Do you have any idea if your ex has finally sold your former house? —I have no idea, I couldn't care less.

Aller comme un gant = to fit like a glove. An example of those expressions that are exactly the same in both French and in English.

Cirer les pompes/lécher les bottes à quelqu'un = to bootlick someone, to flatter someone in view of obtaining something from this person. Lit.: to polish someone's shoes (une pompe is a familiar equivalent of une chaussure)/to lick someone's boots. Ex.: Tu as vu comme il cire les pompes/lèche les bottes du patron ? Pas étonnant qu'il ait eu sa promotion. = Did you see how he bootlicks the boss? It is not surprising that he got promoted.

Laisser tomber comme une vieille chaussette = to ditch/drop/leave somebody. Lit.: To drop like an old sock. Ex.: C'était vraiment dur pour Jacques, sa femme l'a laissé tomber comme une vieille chaussette. = It was really hard for Jacques, his wife ditched him.

Avoir le moral dans les chaussettes = to be in low spirits. Lit.: To have the morale in the socks. Ex.: Depuis que sa fille a quitté la maison, il a souvent le moral dans les chaussettes. = Since his daughter left home, he is often in low spirits/down in the dumps.

Faire porter le chapeau à quelqu'un = to put the blame on someone else. Lit.: To make someone wear the hat. Ex.: Mon collègue s'est encore trompé dans ses calculs, mais je suis sûr qu'il va me faire porter le chapeau ! = My colleague was wrong again in his calculations, but I am certain that he will put the blame on me!

S'en jeter un derrière la cravate = to sink a drink, to knock back a drink. Lit.= To throw one behind the tie. Ex.: Tu le connais, il ne refusera jamais de s'en jeter un derrière la cravate si on lui propose ! = You know him, he will never refuse to sink/knock back a drink if you offer him one!

Se faire remonter les bretelles = To get a ticking-off, to be told off. Lit.: To have your suspenders/braces pulled off. Even if this piece of clothing isn't worn so often anymore, the expression is quite common, even when talking of women... Ex.: J'ai remonté les bretelles à ma mère, elle se mêle trop de mes affaires ! = I told my mom off, she meddles too much in my business!

L'habit ne fait pas le moine = You can't judge a book by its cover, appearances can be deceptive. Lit.: Clothes don't make the monk. Ex.: Tu trouves que ton nouveau patron est stupide ? Détrompe-toi, il est très intelligent ! L'habit ne fait pas le moine... = You think that your new boss is stupid? Don't be so sure, he is very intelligent. You can't judge a book by its cover...

Changer d'avis comme de chemise = To change your mind as often as you change your underwear. So it's the same expression, except that the French talk about their shirts... Ex.: Tu vas enfin décider ce que tu veux faire ce soir ? Tu changes d'avis comme de chemise ! = Will you finally decide what you want to do tonight? You change your mind as often as you change your underwear!

Y laisser sa chemise = To lose one's shirt, to buy something that costs an arm and a leg. This expression is very close to the English one, you just leave your shirt instead of losing it. Ex.: Je veux bien acheter un très beau cadeau d'anniversaire pour ma fille, mais je ne veux pas y laisser ma chemise ! = I'd be happy to buy a beautiful birthday gift for my daughter, but I don't want to lose my shirt!

Il peut aller se rhabiller ! = He can eat his heart out! Meaning, most of the time: He is far from being as good as he thinks he is. Lit.: He can go put his clothes back on. Ex.: Ils croient qu'ils sont les meilleurs basketteurs, mais il peuvent aller se rhabiller, les Américains sont bien meilleurs qu'eux ! = They think they are the best basket players, but they can eat their hearts out, the Americans are much better than them!

Se tenir droit dans ses bottes = To be self-assured, self-righteous, even when one is wrong. Lit.: To remain upright in one's boots. This is probably the most common expression using the word botte these days, often to refer to the attitude of a politician.

En avoir plein les bottes = To be fed up, to be sick to the back teeth, to have had it up to here. Lit.: to have your boots full of (something). Ex.: J'en ai plein les bottes de t'entendre rouspéter. = I'm fed up to hear you complain.

 Lécher les bottes de quelqu'un = To lick someone's boots: exactly the same meaning in English and French. Ex.: Tu as vu comme il lèche les bottes du patron ? = Have you seen how he licks the boss's boots?
  
Être à la botte de quelqu'un = To be someone's puppet. Lit.: To be at someone's boot. Such a person may very well have the same habit of licking that person's boots, like above... Ex.: Il est totalement à la botte du patron. = He's totally the boss' puppet.

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Expressions sur le thème du mensonge et de la tromperie

Mener en bateau = To lead someone on. Lit.: To take someone on a boat.

Bourrer le mou à quelqu'un = to have someone on. Lit.: to fill someone's lungs.Mentir comme un arracheur de dents = to lie through your teeth, to lie very easily without having any remorse. Lit.: to lie like a dentist (a tooth puller).

Il ment comme il parle = Everything he says is a lie. Lit.: He lies just like he speaks.

Je connais la musique = I know that (the person talking to me) is fooling with me. Lit.: I know the music.

Se faire avoir/se faire pigeonner = to be had/fooled/taken in.

Arrête ton char ! = Stop messing around! Lit.: Stop your chariot!

Arrête ton baratin ! = idem. Lit.: Stop your smooth talk!

Arrête tes salades ! = This is nonsense. Lit.: Stop your salads! Dire des salades = to say nonsense.

Tu parles, Charles ! = Yeh, sure bro. Lit.: You can talk, Charles!

Mon œil ! = My foot!. Lit.: My eye!

C'est du n'importe quoi = It's nonsense. Lit.: This is anything whatever.

Prendre quelqu'un pour une cloche = To take someone for an idiot. Lit.: To take someone for a bell.

Prendre pour argent comptant = take something at face value. Lit.: Take for cash.

Prendre des vessies pour des lanternes = To believe anything someone tells you, to have stupid illusions, to be very naive. Lit.: To have someone confuse ice packs for lanterns.

An example of the way these expressions may be used in the daily language:
- Pendant des mois, mon patron m'a vraiment mené en bateau ! Il m'a bourré le mou en me promettant une augmentation. Mais il ment comme il parle ! C'est du n'importe quoi... = For months, my boss led me on. He had me on by promising me a raise. But everything he says is a lie! It's nonsense...
- Si tu prends pour argent comptant tout ce qu'on te dit tu vas toujours te faire avoir. Moi, je connais la musique et je ne me serais pas laissé pigeonner comme ça. = If you take something at face value, you will always be fooled. Me, I know it when someone is fooling with me, I wouldn't have been taken in like that.
- Mon œil ! Tu parles, Charles ! Arrête un peu tes salades, tu aurais bien pris des vessies pour des lanternes toi aussi. = My foot! Yeh, sure, bro. This is nonsense, you would have believed anything he told you, too.
- Tu me prends pour une cloche ? Arrête ton char ! = You take me for an idiot? Stop messing around!

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Expressions belges

Une fois = Once. This is certainly the Belgian expression, used mainly in Brussels, that is the most well-known. The French use it (with irony or sympathy) almost systematically between them when they talk about Belgium or Belgian friends. It means "a little" but it mainly serves to support or emphasize an idea, a suggestion or a question. Ex.: Alors, tu me dis ce que tu en penses, une fois ? = So, will you tell me what you think of it? (with some insistence).

Aller à guindaille = To party, to celebrate, to have fun — and to drink a lot, usually... In France you would say "faire la fête". This expression is mainly used by students, especially at the end of their studies. Ex.: Tu viens ? On va à guindaille ce soir ! = Are you coming? We're going to party tonight! One can also say faire guindaille or guindailler. Ex.: J'ai un mal de tête ! J'ai trop fait guindaille/guindaillé. =  I have such a headache! I partied too much.

Faire  un à-fond = To empty your glass in one gulp (in France: "faire cul sec"). This is another tradition among students, but mainly when they drink beer. Not only do they have to finish their glass in one gulp, but they have to drink their beer as fast as possible... L'À-fond liégeois is the name of a renowned student bar in the city of Liège.

Il drache = It's raining/it's raining cats and dogs/heavily. In France we would say: "Il pleut des cordes". The word drache is also used, meaning "heavy rain" (in France : "pluie battante").  Ex.: Tu as vu comme il drache ? Je laisse tomber le vélo aujourd'hui. = Have you seen how heavily it's raining? I give up riding my bike today.

Après moi les mouches = What will happen will happen, no matter what will happen (after what I have done). Lit.: After me, the flies. In France : "Après moi le déluge" (after me the flood). Ex.: J'ai fait ce que j'ai pu pour redresser la société, après moi les mouches. = I did what I could to straighten out the company, now what will happen will happen.

Je suis bleu d'elle = I am in love with her. Lit.: I am blue of her. It can be used also if you love something, like Belgian chocolate. The Belgian singer Stromaë uses this expression in his song "Carmen": L'amour est comme l'oiseau de Twitter; on est bleu de lui seulement pour 48 heures. = Love is like the Twitter bird; we love it only for 48 hours.

Battre le beurre = To not answer the question you have been asked. BE CAREFUL: for a French person, this expression is either literal (to churn butter), or very vulgar (to f... someone)!

Mettre quelqu'un en bouteille = To tease someone. Lit.: To put someone in a bottle. The French would say: Mettre quelqu'un en boîte (to put someone in a box)...

Avoir une brette avec quelqu'un = To have a fight/an argument with someone.

Une personne qui est contraire à une autre = A person who has a different viewpoint than someone else. In France we don't use this adjective to qualify a person but only an opinion: Une personne qui a un avis contraire...

Faire le chat = To play hooky, to skip school. Lit.: to do the cat. A French person would say: Faire l'école buissonnière.

Un filet américain = A steak tartare. The Americans, who mostly prefer their steak to be well done, are not always happy to discover that the "American filet" on the menu of a Belgian restaurant is really made of raw ground meat...

Être taiseux (adj.) = to speak very little, to be very discrete in one's way of expressing oneself. There is no real equivalent in France. We would rather say: Une personne qui parle peu.

Aller à la toilette = To go to the bathroom. In French it is always in the plural: Aller aux toilettes.

Trouver porte de bois = to find a closed door. Lit.:  To find a wooden door.  In French we say: Trouver porte close. Ex.: Chaque fois que j'essaie d'aller voir mon patron pour demander une augmentation, je trouve porte de bois. = Each time I try to go see my boss to ask for a raise, I find a closed door.
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Expressions sur le thème "entrer", "sortir", etc.

Il n'est pas encore sorti de l'auberge ! = He is not out of the woods yet.  Lit.: He is not out of the inn yet. Ex.: Mon fils n'est pas encore sorti de l'auberge ! Il lui reste encore cinq ans d'études avant d'obtenir son diplôme. = My son is not out of the woods yet. He still has five years of studies before his graduation.

Avoir un nom à coucher dehors = To have an unpronounceable name. Lit.: To have a name to sleep outside. Ex.: Comment s'appelle le nouveau copain de ta fille ? – Alors là, je n'arrive jamais à m'en rappeler, il a un nom à coucher dehors ! = –What is the name of your daughter's new boyfriend? –Oh well, I can never remember it, he has an unpronounceable name!

Entrer chez quelqu'un comme dans un moulin = To waltz in somewhere just as you please. Lit.: To enter  somebody's place like in a windmill. Ex.: J'en ai marre de ma belle-mère, elle entre chez nous comme dans un moulin ! = I am fed up with my mother-in-law, she waltzes in to our home just as she pleases!
  
Prendre la porte = To get fired. Lit.: To take the door. Ex.: Le patron a clairement fait comprendre à la secrétaire que si elle arrive encore en retard elle n'aura qu'à prendre la porte ! = The boss clearly made it very clear to the secretary that if she comes late again, she will be fired!

Ne jamais être sorti de son trou = To have never been out of one's backyard, to live in a cave. Lit.: To have never been out of one's hole. Ex.: J'essaie d'amener mes parents en Normandie. Ils ne sont jamais sortis de leur trou !  = I'm trying to get my parents to travel with me to Normandy. They live in a cave!

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Entre rêve et folie

Être timbré=To be nuts. Lit.: to be stamped. Timbrer means: to postmark. It's a relatively mellow way to say that someone is not totally normal, compared to more insulting synonyms, such as: maboul, piqué, ravagé, toqué, détraqué, and many more. Usually, these "compliments" are not made directly to a person but when talking about someone...

Être complètement allumé = To be crazy. Lit.: to be completely lit up. Almost a synonym for the ones above, but someone who is allumé is also very excited by something he is involved in. Ex.: Il était déjà timbré, ce mec, maintenant il est complètement allumé avec ce nouveau projet != This guy was nuts already, now he is totally excited about this new project!

Bâtir des châteaux en Espagne= To build castles in the air, in the sky. Lit.: to build castles in Spain. Ex.: Mon fils est totalement irréaliste, il n'arrête pas de bâtir des châteaux en Espagne ! Je me demande quand il commencera à avoir le sens des réalités. = My son is totally unrealistic, he doesn't stop building castles in the air! I wonder when he will start having a sense of reality.

Tirer des plans sur la comète= To count one's chicken before they've hatched, to make overly ambitious plans. Lit.: to draw up plans on the comet. Almost the same meaning as the expression above, but with a nuance: someone who tire des plans sur la comète might be partly reasonable, his projects might possibly succeed. At least he truly believes in it!

Jeter l'argent par les fenêtres= To pour money down the drain, to spend too easily, without thinking and counting. Lit.: to throw money out the window. Ex.: Mes parents ont toujours jeté l'argent par les fenêtres. Résultat : ils ne sont jamais devenus riches ! = My parents always poored money down the drain. The result is that they never became rich!

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Expressions sur le thème du départ

Se casser = to leave, to be off, to be out of here (fam.); lit.: to break oneself. A synonym is se tirer (fam.); lit.: to shoot oneself. Both expressions can also mean: to leave (job, family...) because we're fed up. Ex.: Salut, je me casse/je me tire d'ici ! J'en ai ras-le-bol. = Bye, I'm out of here! I'm fed up .

Prendre le large = to leave, to take off, might also mean to run away for good; lit.: to take the open sea. Ex.: – C'est vrai que tu es seule ? Et ton mari, il est où ? Oh, il a pris le large depuis longtemps ! = –Is that true that you're alone? And your husband, where is he? –Oh, he took off for a long time ago!

Plier bagage = to pack up and go, to leave (fam.); lit.: to bend/to fold one's luggage. It might also have the meaning of leaving for good when we are not satisfied with our life. Ex.: Quand j'ai appris que je n'avais pas besoin de travailler pendant l'été, j'ai vite plié bagage avant que le patron change d'avis ! = When I learned that I didn't need to work during the summer, I quickly packed up and left, before the boss changed his mind!

Prendre la clef des  champs = to go away, to get away, to escape, to leave for greener pastures, sometimes with the same idea that we leave to change our lives; lit.: to take the keys of the fields. Ex.: Après seulement six mois de travail dans une banque, j'ai vite pris la clef des champs ! = After only working six months in a bank, I quickly left for greener pastures!

Être par monts et par vaux = to be always somewhere else other than home; lit.: to be always by hills and valleys. Ex.: Depuis qu'il a commencé ses études, je ne vois presque plus mon fils, il est toujours par monts et par vaux. = Since he started college, I hardly see my son, he is always somewhere else than home.

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Expressions utilisant des mots anglais

Une crème anglaise = A custard. Why do the French call this delicious sweet cream made of eggs, sugar and warm milk une crème anglaise? Apparently, it is because the French discovered it in England, in the English Court, in the 16th century... They had the very good idea to copy this recipe but in France the crème anglaise is served cold and is more liquid.

Une assiette anglaise = Cold cuts, deli meats. Contrary to the previous one, this expression has nothing to do with the British Crown. This dish, also called assiette de charcuterie or assiette froide, seems to have been conceived in France. This wording is, therefore, no more logical than the German one for the same dish:  Schwedische Schüssel (Swedish dish).

Une clé anglaise = An adjustable wrench as the Americans call it, an adjustable spanner for the British. There is a good reason for the French name: this very useful tool is supposed to have been invented around 1835 by an Englishman, Charles Moncky. The Germans have adopted a similar name: der Engländer  (the English). But in Southern Germany and in Switzerland it is called Der Franzos (the French)...

Filer à l'anglaise = To sneak out, or... to take a French leave; lit.: to run/to fly away quickly, the English way. The French also say: filer en douce (to leave softly) or partir comme un voleur (to leave like a thief). The expression comes from the time the English and French cultures were heavily interlinked.

Une cuisine américaine = An open-plan kitchen. They are more and more in fashion in France, where the kitchen is the most important room in a home, and sharing dinner is a major moment in the day. Being able, from the dinner table, to see the cook in action and to smell the delicious meals being prepared is a must for the French.

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Expressions inspirées par les fromages, et les chèvres

En faire tout un  fromage = To make a big fuss over something not important/much ado about nothing (lit.: to make a whole cheese of it — "it" usually referring to something that has just been discussed. Ex.: Ça va, arrête, pas la peine d'en faire tout un fromage ! = It's OK, stop it, no need to make a big fuss over it!

Entre la poire et le fromage = A the end of the meal (when people are more relaxed, and more inclined to talk about important things). Lit.: between the pear and the cheese. Ex.: Entre la poire et le fromage, j'ai appris que Marc allait quitter Julie. = At the end of the meal, I learned that Marc was going to leave Julie.

C'est fort de roquefort ! = It is abusive, very upsetting. In the past the expression was "C'est plus fort que le roquefort". Lit.: It's stronger than roquefort. Ex.: C'est vrai ? Tu as oublié d'acheter mon billet d'avion ? C'est fort de roquefort ! = Really? You forgot to buy my plane ticket? It's really upsetting!

Devenir chèvre = To go crazy, to lose one's  mind, to be driven nuts. It may also suggests "to get angry". Lit.: To become a goat. Ex.: Mon fils change tout le temps d'avis, il me fait devenir chèvre ! = My son constantly changes his mind, he drives me nuts!

Ménager la chèvre et le chou = To keep both parties happy, to be nice and complaisant with each side (to avoid conflict, usually). Lit.: to spare both the goat and the cabbage. Ex.: Ma fille et mon fils sont tellement différents, je ménage la chèvre et le chou quand ils sont ensemble ! = My daughter and my son are so different, I manage to keep both of them happy when they are together!

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Expressions sur le thème des manifs : colère, violence et leurs conséquences

Voir rouge = To be angry, to see red. The expression has the same meaning as in English. Ex.: Quand j'ai compris que les flics voulaient nous empêcher de passer, j'ai vu rouge ! = When I saw that the cops didn't want to let us go through, I saw red!

 Rire jaune = To give a forced/a sour laugh. Lit.: To laugh yellow - a colour very much in the news in France these days... Ex.: Je me suis d'abord moqué de mes collègues quand je les ai vus avec leurs gilets jaunes ! Mais quand ils m'ont critiqué d'un ton très agressif et menaçant, j'ai ri jaune ! = I first mocked my colleagues when I saw them with their yellow vests, but when they criticised me in a very aggressive and threatening tone , I gave a forced laugh!

Œil pour œil, dent pour dent = An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – the same meaning as in English.  Ex.: Attention, si vous attaquez les flics, ils vont réagir œil pour œil, dent pour dent ! = Be careful, if you attack the cops, they will react an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!

Payer les pots cassés = To pay the price, to suffer the consequences. Lit.: to pay for the broken pots (to pay for the damage). Ex.: Je ne serais pas surprise que quand les manifs seront finies les gilets jaunes regrettent certains de leurs actes, ils pourraient bien payer les pots cassés. = I won't be surprised when the demonstrations are over, if the yellow vests regret some of their actions, they could very well suffer the consequences.

Être sous les verrous = To be locked up. Lit.: to be under the bolts. Ex.: Déjà, des centaines des manifestants les plus violents sont sous les verrous. = Already, hundreds of the more violent demonstrators have been locked up.
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Verbes qui peuvent vouloir dire tout à fait autre chose

Coller = While coller means "to glue", coller un élèvemeans: to keep a pupil after school, to give a pupil a detention. Ex.: Les enfants avaient été très sages hier, je ne comprends pas pourquoi la maîtresse les a tous collés le soir ! = The kids have been very nice yesterday, I don't  understand why the teacher kept all of them after school in the evening!

Souffler et sécher = Souffler usually means "to blow" and sécher "to dry", but, especially at school, they respectively mean "to whisper" and "to go blank, to be unable to...". Ex.: La fille à côté de moi en classe séchait complètement pendant le test, alors pour l'aider je lui ai soufflé les réponses. = The girl close to me in the classroom went blank during the test, so to help her I whispered the answers to her.

Se fendre = Fendre alone means "to split", and the reflexive form, se fendre,"to crack", but if you add the word pêche (peach), or also poire (pear) it's very different: "to split one's sides laughing." Ex.: Ton mari est trop drôle quand il raconte ses histoires. Je me suis vraiment fendue la pêche pendant le dîner ! = Your husband is too funny when he tells his stories. I have really split my sides laughing during the dinner!

Plonger : It is not only in a lake or a swimming pool that one loves "to dive", the translation of plonger, but they do it in a book, or a file ‒ a little like in English with "to plunge".  Plonger dans un livre therefore means: to immerse oneself in a book, to bury oneself in a book... Ex.: Mon père adorait les livres de géographie, il y restait plongé pendant des heures! = My dad used to love geography books, he used to immerse himself in them for hours!

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Expressions inspirées des fleurs

Jeter des fleurs à quelqu'un = To strew roses at someone's feet, to praise someone, to speak highly of someone. Lit.: to throw flowers to someone. Ex.: Quand mon chef me jette des fleurs, c'est souvent parce qu'il a besoin de moi pour quelque chose de difficile. = When my boss strews roses at my feet, it is often because he needs me for something difficult.

Couvrir de fleurs = To praise (very close to the previous one). Lit.: To cover with flowers. A synonym is couvrir d'éloges (to shower with praise). Ma fille réussit si bien à l'école que son prof la couvre de fleurs tout le temps. = My daughter is doing so well at school that her teacher praises her all the time.

 Faire une fleur à quelqu'un = To do a kindness, a favour, to someone. Lit.: To make a flower for someone. Ex.: Je n'en revenais pas quand j'ai appris que le PDG m'envoyait en voyage d'affaires en Asie, il m'a vraiment fait une fleur ! = I couldn't believe it when I learned that the CIO was sending me on a business trip to Asia, he really did me a favour!

Être fleur bleue = To be sentimental, to be romantic, up to the limit of being a little naive. Lit.: to be blue flower. Ex.: Qu'est-ce qu'il est fleur bleue mon nouveau copain ! Il m'écrit des poèmes, m'achète des fleurs tous les jours... = How sentimental my new boyfriend is! He writes poems for me, he buys me flowers everyday...

Envoyer quelqu'un sur les roses = To send someone packing, to rebuff someone, to ask someone to get lost in a very unpleasant way. Lit.: To send someone on the roses. Ex.: La prochaine fois que cette cliente vient se plaindre, je vais l'envoyer sur les roses, elle est vraiment trop exigente ! = Next time this customer comes to complain, I'm going to send her packing, she is really too demanding!

C'est le bouquet !  That takes the biscuit! That takes the cake! That's just what I needed (ironic)! Lit.: That's the bunch (of flowers). Another expression is: Il ne manquait plus que ça !Ex.: Après m'avoir fait attendre 1h, ils me disent que je dois refaire la queue car j'ai rempli le mauvais papier, c'est le bouquet ! = After letting me waiting for 1 hour, they tell me that I have to wait in line again as I didn't fill out the right paper, that takes the cake!

Arriver comme une fleur = To turn up out of the blue, by surprise. Lit.: To come/to arrive like a flower. Ex.: Alors voilà, on a travaillé pendant des heures pour tout préparer, et toi tu arrives comme une fleur juste quand on a terminé ! = Here we are, we worked for hours to prepare everything, and you turn up out of the blue when everything is done!

Un roman à l'eau de rose = A romance novel. Lit.: A novel like the water of a rose. Ex.: Ma mère adore lire des romans à l'eau de rose, qui se terminent bien. Perso je les trouve très ennuyeux ! = My mother loves reading romance novels, with a happy ending. Personally, I find them very boring!

Au ras des pâquerettes= As low as you can get, crass, in the mud. Lit.: As low as the daisies. Ex.: Il n'est vraiment pas drôle ce mec ! Ses plaisanteries sont au ras des pâquerettes. = That guy is really not funny. His jokes are really crass.

Être dans la fleur de l'âge= To be in the prime of life. Lit.: To be in the flower of life. Ex.: Depuis qu'elle est dans la fleur de l'âge, ta mère est encore plus belle ! = Since she is in the prime of life, your mother is even more beautiful!
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Expressions utilisant des termes de la musique

Aller plus  vite que la musique = To do everything too quickly -- and to botch it; to get ahead of oneself. Lit.: To go faster than the music. Tu veux déjà chercher un nouveau travail ? Mais tu viens juste de commencer ! Attends d'avoir un peu plus d'expérience, tu ne peux pas aller plus vite que la musique !  = You want to look for a new job already? But you've just started! Wait to get a little experience, you're getting ahead of yourself!

Tout est réglé comme du papier à musique = Everything is organized in every detail; everything goes like clockwork -- sometimes a bit too much so! Lit.; Everything is set like music paper. Je voulais aider ma belle-sœur à préparer la fête d'anniversaire mais tu la connais, avec elle tout est réglé comme du papier à musique !  = I wanted to help my sister prepare the birthday party, but you know her, with her everything goes like clockwork!

On connaît la chanson = It's the same old song; we've heard it all before. Lit.: We know the song. Another French expression close to this one but less sarcastic is Connaître la musique. Ton patron a dit qu'il va t'envoyer en voyage d'affaires ? Mais tu connais la chanson, il trouvera un prétexte pour dire qu'il ne peut pas. = Your boss said that he'll send you in a business trip? But we've had heard it before, he'll find an excuse to say he can't.

Accorder ses violons = To get one's stories straight; to get one's act together. Lit.: to tune one's violins. Alors qu'est-ce que vous avez fait hier soir, les enfants ? Vous êtes allés au cinéma ou en boîte ? Accordez vos violons ! Si votre père entend ça, vous savez comment il va réagir. = So, kids, what did you do last night? Did you watch a movie or did you go to a night club? Get your stories straight! If your dad hears that, you know how he will react.

C'est du pipeau = It's a lot of rubbish; it's just a lie. Lit. = It's pipe, reed pipe. Another expression close to this one is: Arrête ta flûte ! Ce que les hommes politiques racontent, c'est du pipeau ! Ils sont tous pareils. Comment les croire ? = What politicians say is a lot of rubbish. They are all the same. How can we believe them?

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Expressions sur la consommation de vin

Un verre, ça va, trois verres, bonjour les dégâts ! = One glass a day, it's ok, but three glasses bring problems! In February 1984, in the hope of reducing the number of people who died because of driving under the influence, the French Ministry of Health decided to launch this road safety awareness campaign all over the country. A publicist, Daniel Robert, invented the message that was widely broadcasted on TV and radio, and on a poster (left). This cartoon was designed by Cabu, one of the most famous cartoonists of France, who died in Paris during the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. Most French people still know and use this expression.

Tu t'es vu quand t'as bu ? = Have you seen yourself when you've been drinking? This is another campaign, launched in 2011. The slogan, mainly geared toward the youth, was also invented by Daniel Robert, and it was shown mainly through a TV spot widely circulated. Recently interviewed, he said that he's not very convinced that such campaigns are really effective.

Un petit dernier pour la route ! = A last one for the road ! This expression is the perfect demonstration of the lack of efficiency of these road safety campaigns. The French use it quite frequently in a bistro or at a friend's place when they cannot resist having a last glass of wine before going home.

Quand mon verre est vide, je le plains, quand mon verre est plein, je le vide = When my glass is empty, I feel sorry for it, when my glass is full, I empty it. You have to listen to the audio to understand that this expression is a cute oral play on words with "plains" (verb plaindre = to feel sorry for, to pity) and "plein" (full). Another demonstration that drinking only three glasses isn't always an option for the French...

Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire = Literally: When the wine has been bottled, it must be drunk. The idea behind this expression is the same, but it's meaning is different: Once you've put your hand to the plough, there's no turning back; once you have started something, you're committed to do it, you have to do it... just like when your glass of wine is full, you have to empty it.

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Expressions sur le thème de la botanique

Faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties ! = Don't push it! Don't exaggerate! Don't go beyond the limits! Lit.: One shouldn't push grandma into the stinging nettle. Ex.: Dis donc, c'est moi qui ai acheté les billets de concert pour nous tous, je peux au moins décider où je veux m'asseoir. Faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties ! = Hey, it's I who bought the concert tickets for all of us, I can at least decide where I want to sit. Don't go beyond the limits!

Faire le poireau = To wait in vain, to be hanging around, for a long time usually. It is used most of the time when you wait a very long time for someone (a date, often) who doesn't come... Lit.: To do the leek. Ex.: Je suis resté une demi-heure à t'attendre et je suis parti. J'en ai marre de faire le poireau chaque fois qu'on a prévu de sortir ensemble ! = I've been waiting for you for half an hour and I left. I'm fed up waiting in vain each time we have planned to go out together!

Être haut comme trois pommes = To be short, to be knee-high to a grasshopper. Lit.: To be tall like three apples. Ex.: Oh, qu'est-ce qu'il est mignon ton fils ! Il est haut comme trois pommes. = Oh, how cute is your son, he's knee-high to a grasshopper!

Ça vaut son pesant  de cacahuètes = It's pretty good, great, spectacular, etc.. Lit.: It's worth its weight in peanuts. It's often used in an ironic way. Ex.: – Tu as vu, j'ai eu 100 likes à mon post sur Facebook ! – Ah oui, ça vaut son pesant de cacahuètes ! = Did you see, I got 100 likes for my Facebook post! – Ah yes, that's spectacular!

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Expressions sur le thème du confinement

Lever le pied = To slow down, to take it easy, to ease up. Lit.: To raise the foot. Ex.: Mon mari est un malade de travail. Mais il a bien été obligé de lever le pied pendant tout le temps que son bureau était fermé. = My husband is a workaholic. But he has been obliged to slow down while his office was closed.

Faire une croix sur les sorties = To forget about going out/outings, to kiss goodbye to outings. Lit.: To draw a cross on outings. Ex.: J'adore sortir avec mes copains le week-end. Mais j'ai fait une croix dessus pendant trois mois. = I love going out with my friends on weekends. But I kissed goodbye to outings for three months.

Le jeu en vaut la chandelle = It's worth doing it, it's worthwhile. Lit.: The game is worth the candle. Ex.: On fait tout ce qu'on nous demande : porter un masque, garder une distance avec les gens, etc. C'est embêtant mais le jeu en vaut la chandelle. = We do everything that is asked of us: wearing a mask, keeping a distance with people, etc. It's annoying but it's worthwhile.

Faire contre mauvaise fortune bon cœur = To make the best of a bad job, to make the bed of a bad situation, to accept what happens with courage. Lit.: To make good heart against bad luck. Ex.: Ma mère est triste de ne voir ses petits-enfants que sur écran, mais elle fait contre mauvaise fortune bon cœur. = My mother is sad to see her grandchildren only on a screen, but she makes the best of it.

Reprendre du poil de la bête = To feel much better (after all this has passed, for ex.). This expression is used after having been down a little, or sick. A synonym in French is: On va reprendre le dessus. Lit.: We'll get back again animal's hair. Ex.: Il était un peu déprimé de rester seul chez lui. Mais maintenant il a repris du poil de la bête. = He was a bit depressed to remain alone at home. But now he feels much better.

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Expressions sur le thème du confinement

C'est une tuerie = It's exceptional, excellent, fabulous, fantastic, so good, etc... This rather new expression is mainly used when talking about a restaurant, a film, a shop that a person highly recommends to another. Lit.: It's a killing, a massacre. Ex.: Le nouveau resto italien au coin de la rue est une tuerie ! Vous devriez l'essayer. = The new italian restaurant at the corner of the street is so good! You should try it.

C'est mort = It's impossible, it's over. This meaning is recent. It used to mean only : It's dead, there is nobody there, etc. when talking about a city, a place. Ex.: C'est pas la peine de refaire une demande pour cet appart. C'est mort. = There is no need to do a new enquiry about this flat. It's over.

Ça me flingue = That makes me laugh. Another similar expression is ça me bute. Flinguer = to shoot with a gun; buter = to kill. In the past, their meaning was slightly different: That's stuns me. Ex.: Tu sais quoi ? Julie est repartie avec son ex qu'elle ne voulait plus jamais revoir. Ça me flingue/ça me bute. = Do you know what? Julie went back to her ex-partner whom she didn't want to see anymore. That makes me laugh.

Attraper la mort = To catch your death, to get sick, like in the English expression. Ex.: Mets ton blouson ! Tu vas attraper la mort. = Put your jacket on! You'll get sick!

Tuer le temps = To kill time, also like in English. Ex.: Comme il a plu toute la matinée, mes parents ont tué le temps en jouant aux cartes. = As it rained all morning, my parents killed time by playing cards.

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Les expressions qui tuent

C'est une tuerie = It's exceptional, excellent, fabulous, fantastic, so good, etc... This rather new expression is mainly used when talking about a restaurant, a film, a shop that a person highly recommends to another. Lit.: It's a killing, a massacre. Ex.: Le nouveau resto italien au coin de la rue est une tuerie ! Vous devriez l'essayer. = The new italian restaurant at the corner of the street is so good! You should try it.

C'est mort = It's impossible, it's over. This meaning is recent. It used to mean only: It's dead, there is nobody there, etc. when talking about a city, a place. Ex.: C'est pas la peine de refaire une demande pour cet appart. C'est mort. = There is no need to do a new enquiry about this flat. It's over.

Ça me flingue = That makes me laugh. Another similar expression is ça me bute. Flinguer = to shoot with a gun; buter = to kill. In the past, their meaning was slightly different: That's stuns me. Ex.: Tu sais quoi ? Julie est repartie avec son ex qu'elle ne voulait plus jamais revoir. Ça me flingue/ça me bute. = Do you know what? Julie went back to her ex-partner whom she didn't want to see anymore. That makes me laugh.

Attraper la mort = To catch your death, to get sick, like in the English expression. Ex.: Mets ton blouson ! Tu vas attraper la mort. = Put your jacket on! You'll get sick!

Tuer le temps = To kill time, also like in English. Ex.: Comme il a plu toute la matinée, mes parents ont tué le temps en jouant aux cartes. = As it rained all morning, my parents killed time by playing cards.

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Le langage des lettres

Avoir des lettres = To be well read. This expression is a little bit passé, but it is still in the Larousse dictionary, and you can hear it in some families, especially in the countryside. Or it can also be used in an ironic way. Ex.:  Ah, je vois, Madame a des lettres, elle sait tout, et moi je ne suis qu'un stupide ignare ! = Ah, I see, Madame is well read, she knows everything, while I'm a stupid ignoramus!
In the same way, une personne lettrée is a person who is well read, educated. A similar expression is une personne érudite = a scholarly person.

Des gens de lettres = Writers. One can also say hommes/femmes de lettres, and a synonym is des gens de plume, lit.: people of quill. Ex.: La bibliothèque organise des lectures par des gens de lettres. = The library organizes readings by writers.

Prendre au pied de la lettre = To take at face value, to take literally, or, in a more formal language : to follow the letter of the law. Lit.: To take at the foot of the letter. It's not always used in a positive way. Ex.: Mon chef est embêtant, il prend tout au pied de la lettre ! = My boss is annoying, he takes everything at face value!

Avant la lettre = Before his time. Lit.: Before the letter. Ex.: Mon grand-père était un précurseur. Par exemple, il était écolo avant la lettre ! = My grand-father was a forerunner. For exemple, he was an environmentalist before his time!

Rester lettre morte = To go unheeded. Lit.: To remain a dead letter. Ex.: Avant les élections, les candidats font toujours des promesses. Mais beaucoup restent lettre morte une fois qu'ils sont élus. = Before the elections, the candidates always make promises. But many go unheeded once they are elected.