Carrément !

Le mot du jour : “Carrément !”
This is an expression for everyday life. “Carrément” comes from “un carré”, which means “a square”. It’s employed to express a strong agreement for example. I think that in English, you would use “really” or “completely”.

Ex : Il est carrément fort à ce jeu = He is really good at that game.Tu as faim ? Carrément ! = Are you hungry ? Yes, I’m starving!


So if you want to sound French and casual, don’t hesitate to punctuate your sentences with that word, it’s “carrément” easy 😉

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Le lundi de Pentecôte

Le mot du jour : “Lundi de Pentecôte”
Today in France is another of these multiple holidays that happen along the year, most of the time for religious reasons, but sometimes for secular ones too (like the end of the two World Wars and Labour Day, for example).
So today is a religious holiday, the Monday following the “Pentecôte” (Whit Sunday). The Pentecôte word comes from the Greek pentêkostề hêméra, which means the 50th day (after Easter).

In the Christian tradition, it celebrates the Holy Spirit being send to the disciples. The celebration itself takes place on the Sunday, but for reasons I don’t quite understand, some countries, including France, decided to take the day off on Monday too 🙂

I can’t say I am surprised by that, as a country we do love a day off work 😄

La Pentecôte, Heures d'Étienne Chevalier, enluminées par Jean Fouquet, musée Condé, Chantilly.

Tiré par les cheveux

Le mot du jour : “Tiré par les cheveux”
“Tiré par les cheveux” ( litteral translation : “pulled by the hair) is a really weird one, because it’s quite hard to understand the link between the translation and the meaning.

The meaning is “far fetched”. So, let’s say for example that you just read a novel with an overly complicated plot, then you can say : “Oh cette histoire est vraiment tirée par les cheveux !” (That story really is far fetched).

The origin is not clear. It seems that the expression appeared in the 16th century. It may be coming from a kind of torture, where you would attached someone’s hair to a horse, and pull until they confess whatever you wanted them to confess. So maybe it’s because when tortured, you would say anything, even not very credible stories ?

The experts don’t seem to be too sure, but anyway, that expression is still very much used today, so if you are watching a bad TV series for example, don’t hesitate to say “Oh, c’est complètement tiré par les cheveux !”

You will sound very French 😉

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Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe.

Le mot du jour : “arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe”
“Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe” can be translated by : “to arrive or to happen like a hair on the soup.”

It means that someone has turned up at a bad time, or that something is irrelevant.
You could say, for example : “Je me reposais tranquillement quand mon voisin est arrivé comme un cheveu sur la soupe” (I was resting quietly when my neighbour turned up unexpectedly)

Or you could use it this way : “Sa remarque est arrivée comme un cheveu sur la soupe” (Her comment was completely irrelevant)
Either way, a hair in the soup is never good 🙂

Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe - Lawless French Idiom

Mettre de l’eau dans son vin

Le mot du jour : “Mettre de l’eau dans son vin”
“Mettre de l’eau dans son vin” is to pour water in your wine, to water it down. That expression goes back at least as far as the 16th century.

At the beginning, it just meant to mix up some water in the wine to make it less strong.

But with time, the meaning changed, and now you use it when you talk about being more moderate.

Ex : “Il est trop têtu, il devrait mettre de l’eau dans son vin” (he is too stubborn, he should tone it down)

As for actually putting water in your wine, it’s not very well considered (at least in my family, where it would be seen as a sacrilege), except if the wine tastes really bad 😉

Mettre de l'eau dans son vin, expression avec boissons du ...

Mettre du beurre dans les épinards

Le mot du jour : “Mettre du beurre dans les épinards”
Another food related expression today 😉

“Mettre du beurre dans les épinards” means “to put butter in the spinach”

In every day French, it means earning a little bit more money to improve your quality of life. Spinach alone are not great, but a little bit of butter make them tastier! (Although my favourite are spinach with crème fraîche)

So if, for example, you take a little job on the side, you can say : “Ce n’est pas grand-chose, mais ça met du beurre dans les épinards” (It’s not a lot, but it puts butter in the spinach / it helps make ends meet)

So bon appétit ! 😄

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Être de mèche

Le mot du jour : “Être de mèche (avec quelqu’un)
“Être de mèche avec quelqu’un” means “to be in collusion with someone”.

I was always wondering about that expression, because “une mèche” is a strand of hair or the wick of a candle, so I couldn’t see what it had to do with anything.

As it turns out, that “mèche” comes from the italian “mezzo”, which means “background” (milieu in French). So “être de mèche” is to be from the same “milieu”, the same background, originally. Then, with time, the meaning turned into being complicit.

So, if for example, you are organising a surprise party with someone, you can say that the both of you are “de mèche” 🙂

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Nid de poule

Le mot du jour : “Nid de poule”
Un nid de poule is a hen’s nest. But in French it also means a pothole, probably because of its shape 🙂

So if a French person tells you “Attention sur cette route, il y a plein de nids de poule” (Be careful on this road, there is a lot of hen’s nests), don’t expect to drive in the middle of a flock of chicken 😉

Nids-de-poule | ALBI le Géant

Mettre la charrue avant les bœufs

Le mot du jour : “Mettre la charrue avant les bœufs”
Here is an expression that comes straight from rural France, and can be translated by “to put the plow in front of the oxen”.

There is an almost similar expression in English : “to put the cart before the horse”, which is to try and solve a problem from the wrong side.

So if you think someone you know is not taking the right steps, just roll your eyes at them and say : “Oh la la, tu mets la charrue avant les bœufs !” 😉

Un effet boeuf qui vient des Cantons | Le Devoir

Avoir plus d’un tour dans son sac

Le mot du jour : “Avoir plus d’un tour dans son sac”


And this is the last one about “le sac à procès” (trial bag). It can be translated by “to have more than one trick in one’s bag”, but I think the closest English expression is probably “to have more than one trick up your sleeve”.

It turns out that in 18th’s century trials, just as in today’s procedural TV shows, people loved a little bit of surprise and last minute plot twist. So, if you were able to pull an unexpected evidence from your bag, you could win the heart of the audience.I learnt only recently the origin of that expression, and for a long time I thought it had to do with magicians, when all along it had been about lawyers!

Today it is used to say that you are not at the end of your possibilities, that there is still things you can do to win over a situation.

That’s it for the “sac à procès” 🙂

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