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10 idioms only the French understand

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by capslocked, Aug 31, 2015.

    • Baobabjo
      I heard a great one recently: “Manger les pissenlits par la racine” meaning you’re dead and gone. It literally translates as “To eat dandelions by the root”.

      >The house will be ready by next summer. I can’t wait for you to see it Grandma!
      >Oh don’t be stupid! Je mangerai les pissenlits par la racine before that house is done.
      • Grenouille de service
        I recommend Charles Timoney’s book “Pardon my French!”, very funny!
    • Jeff
      I’m French, I’ve never heard of “Aller faire téter les puces” not “Ne pas attacher son chien avec des saucisses”

      By the way the former sounds disgusting. It probably was the intention, but it still doesn’t look like a good idea.

      There are hundreds that are very well known: “on n’est pas la pour enfiler des perles”, “on n’est pas sorti de l’auberge” etc …
      • ôrtaugraffe !
        I’m French as well, and I didn’t know also the 1, the 6 and the 9. I don’t know anyone using these sentences.
        and yes there are many others….
        “va voir ailleurs si j’y suis”
        “il pleut comme vache qui pisse”;
        “parachuter un congolais” / “couler un bonze”

        and so many many others we use everyday and I can’t remember them now (I’m a young mummy, sorry…)
        • servan
          Yep, but “parachuter un congolais” it’s kind of…racist. Oh wait, actually it is TOTALLY racist.
    • Siobhan Ni Chorcora
      My favourite is ‘il est comme un ours mal-leché’ … he’s a grumpy pants … or a badly licked bëâr …
    • Mathilde
      I’m French and I’ve never heard the expressions n°1, 6 and 9.
      Where do they come from ? Middle Age ?
      • CPO
        Si, la n° 1 est connue puisque je la connais et je ne suis pas de la famille de celui qui a publié cet article
      • Ping
        non, mais ça doit bien remonter au 20e siècle ! Peut-être même le 19e
      • servan
        Open a book, go outside of your home, meet people I’ don’t know, but do something about your culture… These sentences are actually used very often everywhere. Just a matter of generation, I guess…
    • Leyla
      My favorite is the French equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. “Tu veux le beurre, l’argent du beurre, le cul d’la crémière”.
    • J
      I am French, same for me : 6 & 9 are fake
      • Nico
        I know a guy who is using 6 … but he’s from Britanny, that’s probably explain a lot of things. [​IMG]

        (Never heard No. 9)
        • Mandise
          I’m French, from Brittany and never heard of this one …. so that doesn’t really explain anything at all !
      • Bibique
        no number 6 exists, but it does not mean to be cheap, it means to do something stupid. Obviously if you tie your dog with sausages, he will eat them and be free
        • servan
          Yep, you’re right, it’s a part of the explaination. But if you used to tie your dog with sausages, maybe you just don’t mind about the price of the sausages.
      • servan
        No, they are not… You are just not very smart, or maybe you’d better shutdown your PC more frequently.
    • Cath
      never heard 6 nor 9 either… But I love “je vais mettre la viande dans le torchon” to say “I’m going to bed”. Literally I go put the meat in the cloth… I heard it for the 1rst time in a môviê, “la vie est un long fleuve tranquille”…
    • Tf
      You have “La cerise sur le gateau” ( Cherry on the cake ). I let you guess what it mean …
      • Tiana261
        Qui a trouvé ? Avoir la meilleure part ? non ?
        • servan
          Non, pas du tout… c’est terminer quelque chose avec classe, “parfaire” quelque chose. On pose la cerise, c’est à dire la décoration, sur le gâteau en tout dernier…
      • Isa
        Au Québec, on dit la cerise sur le sundae!
    • Bob
      Other commons idioms include :

      – “Les carottes sont cuites” : “the carrots are cooked” => usually used to mean that the end is nigh/inevitable, all luck has run out, etc. For ex: “The tunnel collapsed, but I am sure rescue is on its way.” “We are in the middle of nowhere and who knows how long they will take. I think that les carottes sont cuites for us, buddy…”

      – “C’est la fin des haricots” : “It was the last long green pea” => same as above.

      – “Une tempête dans un verre d’eau” : “A storm inside a glass of water” => similar to #3. Kind of making a big whoop about some small thing. Over-exaggerate on an issue or topic. For ex: “I gave my boyfriend a piece of my mind yesterday after I saw him chatting enthusiastically with our pretty newly-arrived neighbor.” “You are making a tempête dans un verre d’eau, he was surely just having a friendly chat with her, that’s all.”

      – “Rejoindre les bras de Morphée” : “to rejoin Morpheus’ arms” => Similar to #9, and probably more common too. Morpheus is the sleep/dream god in ancient greek mythology and therefore the idiom is self-explanatory.
      • Jack McKinney
        Actually, the third one is also a common English idiom, “A tempest in a tea cup”. As for the others, number one is at least passingly similar to “Our goose is cooked” but the others don’t have an obvious English analog.
    • Thierry
      Im French, and instead of “aller faire teter les puces” that I have never heard about, I’d rather suggest “Aller mettre la viande dans le torchon”, literally translated with “to put the meat in the tea towel”…
    • Karine
      I’m afraid No. 6 means the opposite. If you tend to buy expensive things, people will say that you’re the sort of person that “n’attache pas son chien avec des saucisses”. The idea being that if you attached your dog with saussages, it wouldn’t last, so you pay more for better quality and long-term results.
    • Clinton Spriggle
      Do you not say “he’s got bats in the beffroy”, “to drink like a fish”, and even”it’s raining cats and dogs”? yes i’m french
    • Oooolala
      I just had my French friend look at these and she said she’s heard of maybe four of these. It’s a good thing I didn’t start using them in France.
      • jean Traverien
        It’s : chier UN pendule, not une pendule- meaning to shit a pendulum not a clock
        • servan
          No at all… You’re wrong.
    • Erwan
      About No 3 sometimes we say “chier une pendule a 13 coups” pooping out a 13 beats clock…
    • Hugo
      Well… “se faire poser un lapin” is not “you’ve been waiting at the café for an hour and the guy you met at the club last night still hasn’t shown up”, it is more like you are waiting for the girl you met last night. Guys usually don’t give rabbits. Girls do.
      • servan
        No, you’re wrong. Guys can “put down a rabbit”. Actually, the original meaning is more likely “set on a trap”, cause you can put a rabbit in a trap to catch a wolf, for example.
    • Mary Kissane
      I’ve only heard of a few of these, myself, but since I’m not a native
      speaker, I’ll just quibble with the title of the article. Several of
      those the author cites have close English equivalents. We ‘chions’ a brick instead of a clock. We have bats in
      our belfry instead of a spider on our ceiling. And we say “Sleep tight;
      don’t let the bedbugs bite” [ew] instead of getting sucked by fleas
    • isabelle
      I am french, from toulouse originally, and i use and know #6 very well. it does mean “he is cheap”.maybe it’s more an expression from southwest, where we do make meters and meters of sausage. I don’t know #9 at all, but it’s probably used in other areas, or other generations.
    • Whateverman
      How about “faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties” / “don’t push grannie in the nettles” ? [​IMG]
      Used when you take advantage of someone’s kindness and it’s getting really tiring.
      Example: “Can you take me to the airport ?”
      – “Sure”
      – “… and buy me lunch there ?”
      – “Err… sure”
      – “… and give me a 5-figure check ?”
      – “Hey, faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties !”
    • Bongoe
      “Faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties”, my favourite, means “do not exagerate/abuse”
      “T’as vu la vierge?” means “Are you crazy?”
      We have tons..
    • Antoine
      Good article, I’ve an other french expression:
      On va pas se déguiser en feuille de choux pour se faire bouffer (manger) le cul par des lapins !

      I think it mean, “don’t be pushed around”
      But i’m french and i haven’t a great level un english !
    • Alex
      As a French person, I don’t know, let alone use these idioms, except no 4. Not to mention how terrible they all are – they sound like something a lower-class person from the 18th century would say. There are tons of other much popular idioms that are not outdated (yet).
    • jerry48
      I never heard 6 and 9 !!! I am french .

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