Pour des prunes

Le mot du jour : “Pour des prunes”

“Pour des prunes” (for plums) means “for nothing” or “in vain”.

You could say for example : “J’ai travaillé toute la journée, pour des prunes” (I worked all day, all for nothing).

But why would lovely plums be considered so worthless?

Well, it turns out that in July 1148, Crusaders decided to lay siege in front of Damas, a city on the way to Jerusalem, well known for its delicious plums, “les prunes de Damas”.

The siege was a complete disaster and lasted for only four days. The Crusaders didn’t have a choice : they had to go back home, having only captured baskets of plums!

Since then the expression has survived in everyday French and is still very much in use today, even if we don’t always know where it comes from.