French Expressions for the Intrepid, Outspoken Traveler

My friend Elissa is getting ready to move to Paris, as part of her ongoing job saving the world. Elissa is eloquent, clever, with a strong sense of self, not afraid to speak her mind and knows exactly what to say to get out of a sticky situation. So as part of her farewell I found some French phrases she may find useful in her upcoming two-year adventure. Here’s to Elissa! May she return from France after having many saucepans hung on her ass!

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”)

Avoir des atomes crochus avec quelqu’un
To have a lot in common with someone (literally: “to have hooked atoms with someone”)

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”)

Avoir un poil dans la main
To be lazy (literally: “to have a hair in the hand”)

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”)

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”)

Enfoncer le clou
To drive the point home (literally: “to drive the nail in”)

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”)

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”)

Faux cul
Hypocrite (literally: “fake ass”)

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 une couille dans le potage
There is a problem here (literally: “there is a ball (i.e., testicule) in the soup”)

Je ne vais pas faire long feu ici
I will be leaving soon (literally: “I will not make long fire here”)

La vache!
Expression of surprise (literally: “the cow!)

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”)

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”)

Noyer le poisson
To evade an issue (literally: “to drown the fish”)

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”)

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

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”)

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”)

Tirer des plans sur la comète
To build castles in the air (literally: “to draw plans on the comet”)

Tous les 36 du mois
Never (literally: “each 36th day of the month”)

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

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”)

To read even more outlandish French expressions, click here.

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1 comment

  1. Although I don’t speak French, this was highly entertaining and my laugh very loudly.

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