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Linguaholic
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Your favourite French idioms


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I had a French dictionary in high school which was dedicated to idioms, and some of them were brilliant! Some of my favourites include:

"Ce ne sont pas tes oignons" - none of your business, literally "these aren't your onions"

"C'est la fin des haricots" - it's useless, literally "it's the end of the beans"

"J'en ai ras-le-bol" - I can't take it anymore, literally "my bowl if overflowing"

What are your favourites?

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My favorites are :

Il n'a pas la pêche! (He's feeling down) - literally "He doesn't have the peach".

Il a la banane! (He's in a good mood) - literally "He has the banana" (from the shape of his smile)

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I think my favourite must be "avoir un chat dans le gorge" (to have a thick, hoarse voice) - literally "to have a cat in the throat. I still remember the picture this idiom came with in my old manual. It was quite hilarious XD

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My favorites are :

Il n'a pas la pêche! (He's feeling down) - literally "He doesn't have the peach".

Il a la banane! (He's in a good mood) - literally "He has the banana" (from the shape of his smile)

Love the peach one! It's quite funny how so many French idioms seem to involve fruit or veg.

And Topcho, I'm sure I remember reading that one! Well, I guess cats are quite scratchy, so it makes sense. Certainly makes more sense than having a frog in your throat like we do in English!

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In German (Swiss-German as well), we also have the frog-related idiom:=) So we say "einen Frosch im Hals haben" in German meaning to have a frog in the throat. In Swiss German this would be written (in my dialect) "ä Frosch im Haus ha". However, I would like to point out that there is NO such thing as correct spelling/writing in Swiss German. We just write the words however we want to  :cool:

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Je ne veux pas de mais which means "no buts about it!" is a very authoritative and cute one to me.

I also like Avoir un faim de loup meaning "i have the hunger of the wolf"  that, to me, is so funny to hear someone say.  it's sort of like "i could eat a horse" in english

And finally La goutte d'eau qui fait déborder le vase meaning "the drop of water that will make the vase overflow".  Sort of like "the straw that broke the camel's back" in english.

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  • 1 month later...

The cat idiom and the peach one made me laugh.  :laugh: I love idioms and how weird they sound with their literal translation. My favorite is "Ah, la vache!" (literally means "Oh, my cow!") but is used to say "Good God!"

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I like the one which goes "Je mets des cordes a mon arc" or "I put strings on my bow (the one for shooting arrows). This means a person who is a jack-of-all-trades or one who has to multi-task and do a lot of things simultaneously.

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"C'est la fin des haricots" - it's useless, literally "it's the end of the beans"

I would really like to know how this came about as an idiom. The cat one, I imagine a cat scratching your throat, making it hoarse. Being hungry as a hungry wolf, that makes sense. But the end of the beans meaning it's useless? I love that, but it makes me ask so many questions about the phrase's origin.

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"Ce ne sont pas tes oignons" - none of your business, literally "these aren't your onions"

"C'est la fin des haricots" - it's useless, literally "it's the end of the beans"

My French is not good enough to know some of these idioms by heart, but these two have got to be my favorite! I have never thought of my business as "onions", but I'll try to throw this in a conversation to see how friends react.

"Hey Chuck, how are you today? You look a little sad, what's wrong?"

"It's none of your onions..." 

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Some of my favorite French idioms are:

Garder la tête froide: to keep one's cool ("to keep the head cool")

Se creuser la tête: to think really hard / to remember something ("to dig into your head")

Se mettre le doigt dans l'œil: To put your foot in it - to make a mistake ("to put your finger in your eye")

It's awesome reading some of your faves as well!

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I've heard a few throughout the years. That was the great thing about living where I lived. There was a ton of French and Spanish spoken. So, some of my favorite ones...

1. La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure. (Might is right.)

2. Il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (Eat to live, don't live to eat)

3. Tous pour un, un pour tous. (All for one, one for all.)

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My favorite French idioms are usually the ones that sound funny both when translated and in French :tongue: like:

Appuyer sur le champignon - to accelerate, to put your foot down (to press on the mushroom);

Prendre la mouche - this is the French version of "Get lost!" :laugh: (to catch the fly);

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  • 4 months later...

Hahahah

I like using french idioms now and then when talking to my friends such as:

'C'est la vie' meaning 'Such is life'

'À boire ou je tue le chien' meaning 'Bring me a drink or I kill the dog'

And of course, the tenth doctor's very own:

'Allons-y!' meaning 'Let's go!'  :grin:

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  • 2 months later...

My favourite has to be "tu chantes comme une cassorole".

In English it means you sing like a pan. Obviously it's used to insult someone when you think their singing is terrible. Another one is (I don't know how to say it in French) "If you keep singing you will cause it to rain".

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  • 11 months later...
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I find it interesting that some idioms are very similar across different languages. 

These are the ones that i find easy to remember :)

ça coûte les yeux de la tête

English equivalent- It costs an arm and a leg.

Appeller un chat un chat

English equivalent- to call a spade a spade

 

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  • 2 years later...
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Au ras des pâquerettes - of low quality, interest ''close to the daisy level''

The high reference isn't only used to express phisycal high of an object or the size of something but also a level of something (ideologicaly, mentaly etc ...) as instance : High grades, I'm high etc ...

So here, to talk about something of poor quality (either a film, story, joke, humor, exam, etc ...) we used this expression to say that it (the thing you're talking about) is just above the high (level) of the daisies -> not very high and so, not very good (of poor, low quality)

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S'en payer une (bonne) tranche - to have a good time / a good laugh ''to pay oneself a good slice''

Une tranche '' a slice'' is not only a physical thing (une tranche de pain ''a slice of bread'') but can also refer to an immaterial thing such as:

- une tranche de vie ''a slice of time'' (which refers to a period in life)

- une tranche horaire ''a slice of hour/schedule/time'' (which refer to a period of time in the 24 hours day format)

Then, this expression take these last meaning of ''slice'' (referring to the time) - a good time

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Remuer / tourner le couteau dans la plaie - To rub salt in the wound

It literally means ''to turn the knife in the wound/injury'' which give approximately the same result as the English equivalent - a huge pain.

Used when oneself is reminded of a painful thing (mainly emotional/immaterial troubles/pains)

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