Some French Idioms

Idiomatic expressions cannot be understood from the meanings of the separate words, but have a separate meaning of their own – a great way to sound more French in a conversation and most expressions are already familiar in their English meaning.  Bonne chance!

Un clou chasse l’autre.
Life goes on. (Literally: One nail chases the other.)

Avoir un faim du loup.
To be very hungry. (Literally: Hungry like a wolf.)

Tomber dans les pommes
To faint (Literally: To fall in the apples.)

Quand le chat n’est pas là les souris dansent 
When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

Je ne suis pas dans mon assiette
I don’t feel up to it/well.

C’est dans les vieilles marmites qu’on fait les meilleurs soupes
Literally: With the best methods you get the best results.

Mettre les petits plats dans les grands. (making a special effort to please)

Long comme un jour sans pain. (Interminable)

Comme le petit Jesus en culotte de velours
Something that tastes delicious and smooth. (Literally: Smooth as little Jesus in Velvet shorts)

Pedaler dans la farine.
To get nowhere fast.

Trop de cuisiniers gatent la petite marmite.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Coup de faim.
A small hunger pang.

On ne fait pas d’un âne, un cheval de course même en taillant ses oreilles en pointes. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.  (Literally: You can’t transform a donkey into a race horse, even by trimming his ears.)

Metro, boulot, dodo.
Same thing everyday. (Literally: train, work, sleep)

Il pleut des cordes. 
It’s raining cats and dogs.  (Literally: It’s raining ropes.)

Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.
We all make our own bed to lie in. (Literally: Little by little, the bird makes its nest.)

Je pourrais manger un curé frotté d’ail
I could eat a horse. (Literally: I could eat a parish priest rubbed with garlic.)

Charbonnier est maître chez soi.
A man’s home is his castle. (Literally: The coal miner is the master of his house.)

L’arbre cache souvent la forêt. 
Can’t see the forest for the trees.

Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir. 
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Ce qui est fait est fait.
There is no use crying over spilt milk.

VOILA!!

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Some French Idioms

  1. Angie says:

    Interesting but just too many to take in !

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