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French expressions you won't learn at school
Expressions françaises en Anglais



A - C - D - E - F - H - I - J - L - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V

A
À boire ou je tue le chien!
Bring me something to drink or I kill the dog!
Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe
About a remark in a conversation, to be completely irrelevant (literally: "to arrive like a hair in the soup")
Attaquer bille en tête
He didn't beat about the bush (literally: "to attack with a marble in head")
Avoir chaud aux plumes
To escape a danger (literally: "to have one's feathers hot")
Avoir des atomes crochus avec quelqu'un
To have a lot in common with someone (literally: "to have hooked atoms with someone")
Avoir le cul entre deux chaises
To be caught between two stools (literally: "to have one's ass between two chairs")
Avoir les dents du fond qui baignent
To be overfed (literally: "to have one's back teeth swimming")
Avoir les jetons
To be scared (literally: "to have the tokens")
Avoir les chevilles qui enflent
To be very full of oneself (literally: "to have one's ankles swell")
Avoir des casseroles au cul
To be haunted by a scandal (literally: "to have saucepans hung on the ass")
Avec ma bite et mon couteau
To do something with very few tools (literally: "with my dick and my knife")
Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles
To be lucky (literally: "to have the ass full of noodles")
Avoir trois métros de retard
To always be one step behind (literally: "to be three metros late")
Avoir un chat dans la gorge
To have a frog in one's throat (literally: "to have a cat in one's throat")
Avoir un fil à la patte
To be tied down (literally: "to have a thread at the leg")
Avoir un poil dans la main
To be lazy (literally: "to have a hair in the hand")
Avoir une peur bleue
To have a bad scare (literally: "to have a blue fear")

C
Ça me fait une belle jambe
A fat lot of good that does me! (literally: "It makes me a nice leg")
Ça ne casse pas des briques
It has nothing to write home about (literally: "It doesn't break bricks")
Ça ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard
It has nothing to write home about (literally: "It doesn't break three legs to a duck")
Ça va chier des bulles
There'll be one hell of a row (literally: "It will shit bubbles")
Ça va être pour ma pomme
It's for yours truly (literally: "It will be for my apple")
Ça vaut son pesant de cacahuètes
Ironical: That's priceless (literally: "It is worth its weight in peanuts")
C'est dans la poche
It's in the bag (literally: "It's in the pocket")
C'est le pied
That's great (literally: "It is the foot")
C'est une autre paire de manches
That's another story (literally: "It's another pair of sleeves")
Chat échaudé craint l'eau froide
Once bitten, twice shy (literally: "A warmed cat fears cold water")
Coincer la bulle
To bum around (literally: "to wedge the bubble")
Courir sur le haricot
Get one someone's nerves (literally: "to run on someone's bean")

D
Découvrir le pot aux roses
To discover a secret (literally: "to discover the roses' pot")
Note: This expression does not spell "découvrir le poteau rose" (i.e., "to discover the pink pole").
Démerden Zie sich
German-like expression for "solve your problem yourself" (literally: "get out of the shit yourself")
Dire tout et son contraire
To say contradictory things (literally: "to say everything and its contrary")
Donner du fil à retordre
To make life difficult to someone (literally: "to give threads to twist")
Donner sa langue au chat
To give up a riddle (literally: "to give one's tongue to the cat")
L'enfance de l'art
Its child play (literally: "the childhood of art")

E
En voir de toutes les couleurs
To be through the mill (literally: "to see some of all colors")
Enfoncer le clou
To drive the point home (literally: "to drive the nail in")
Essuyer les plâtres
To have all the initial problems to put up with (literally: "to wipe the plasters")
Être de mauvais poil
To be in a bad mood (literally: "to be of bad hair")
Être fagoté comme l'as de pique
To be dressed any old how (literally: "to be dressed like the ace of spades")
Être habillé à la six-quatre-deux
To be dressed any old how (literally: "to be dressed like six-four-two")
Il en a bavé des ronds de chapeau
His eyes nearly popped out of his head (literally: "he dribbled hat circles")
Enfoncer des portes ouvertes
To state the obvious (literally: "To break down open doors")
Être comme une poule qui a trouvé un couteau
To be at a complete loss (literally: "To be like a chicken who has found a knife")
Être un peu long à la détente
To react slowly to something (literally: "To have a slow trigger")

F
Faire d'une pierre deux coups
To solve two problems with one solution (literally: "To do with one stone two hits")
Faux cul
Hypocrite (literally: "fake ass")
Faux jeton
Hypocrite (literally: "fake token")
Fumer comme un sapeur
To smoke like a chimney (literally: "to smoke like a fireman")

H
Haut comme trois pommes
About a person: small (literally: "tall as three apples")

I
Il n'y a pas de quoi fouetter un chat
It is nothing to make a fuss about (literally: "It's no reason for whipping a cat")
Il y a de l'eau dans le gaz
Things aren't running too smoothly (literally: "there is water in the gaz")
Il y une couille dans le potage
There is a problem here (literally: "there is a ball (i.e., testicule) in the soup")

J
Jeter un froid
To put a damper on things (literally: "to throw a cold)
Je ne vais pas faire long feu ici
I will be leaving soon (literally: "I will not make long fire here")
Je te vois venir avec tes gros sabots
Now we are finally getting to the point (literally: "I see you coming with your big clogs")

L
La vache!
Expression of surprise (literally: "the cow!)
La cinquième roue du carosse
To be like a spare part (literally: "the fifth wheel of the coach)
Laisser pisser le mérinos
Don't react to a provocation (literally: "to let the merino piss")
Laisser tomber quelqu'un comme une vieille chaussette
To jilt somebody (literally: "to drop somebody like an old sock")
Les bras m'en tombent
I am stunned (literally: "my arms are falling")

N
Ne pas avoir inventé la poudre
To be a little dumb (literally: "not to have invented gunpowder")
Ne pas savoir sur quel pied danser
Not to know what to do (literally: "not to know on which foot to dance")
Ne pas y aller avec le dos de la cuillère
There is no half-measures with him/her (literally: "not to go there with the back of the spoon")
Noyer le poisson
To evade an issue (literally: "to drown the fish")

O
On n'est pas sorti de l'auberge
We are not out of the woods yet (literally: "We are not out of the inn yet")

P
Parler à tort et à travers
To blather (literally: "To speak wrongly and crosswise")
Pas piqué des hannetons
Great (literally: "not bitten by cockchafers")
Peigner la girafe
To do something useless (literally: "to comb the giraffe")
Poule mouillée
Coward (literally: "wet chicken")
Prendre entre quatre z'yeux
To have an argument with someone (literally: "To take someone between four eyes")

Q
Quand les poules auront des dents
Never (literally: "when chickens will have teeth")

R
Ronger son frein
To champ at the bit (literally: "to gnaw one's break")

S
Sauter du coq à l'âne
To jump from one subject to another (literally: "to jump from the rooster to the donkey")
Se faire chier comme un rat mort
To be extremely bored (literally: "to make oneself shit like a dead rat")
S'en donner à coeur joie
To have a tremendous time (literally: "to give oneself heart joy")
S'entendre comme larrons en foire
To be thick as thieves (literally: "to get along like thieves in a fair")
Sortir de la gueule d'une vache
This is said about a clothing item that looks cumpeled (literally: "to come from a cow's mouth")
Sucer les pissenlits par la racine
Be dead (literally: "to suck the dandelions by the root")
Surveiller comme du lait sur le feu
To keep an eye on (literally: "to keep an eye on like milk on a fire")

T
Tirer le diable par la queue
To have money problems (literally: "to pull the devil's tail")
Tiré par les cheveux
Far-fetched (literally: "pulled by the hair")
Tirer des plans sur la comète
To build castles in the air (literally: "to draw plans on the comet")
Tomber à plat
About a joke: not to trigger any reaction by the audience (literally: "to fall flat")
Tous les 36 du mois
Never (literally: "each 36th day of the month")

U
Un peu mon neveu!
Of course! (literally: "a little bit, my nephew!")

V
Vendre la peau de l'ours avant de l'avoir tué
To count one's chickens before they are hatched (literally: "to sell the bear's skin before killing it")



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Guillaume Pierre
Last Modified: Wed, 30 Jan 2008 12:36:52 GMT