Le mot du jour : “Long comme un jour sans pain” Or, in English “as long as a day without bread”. That’s the feeling I had this morning when I entered the kitchen and realised there was no bread left for breakfast 😱
We use this expression when we want to talk about something that lasts for too long and is very boring or dreary.
“Ce trajet (journey) était long comme un jour sans pain !”
That tells you a lot about the importance of bread in French life 😀 Without it, life loses its flavours!
Le mot du jour : “se mélanger les pinceaux” “se mélanger les pinceaux” can be translated by “to mix up the paintbrushes” so it means to get confused about something. I always thought it was about real paintbrushes getting all muddled up in a pot for example, but it’s not that at all, as it turns out.
“Les pinceaux” (paintbrushes) used to be slang for the feet or the legs. So “se mélanger les pinceaux” is actually about being so confused that you trip on your own feet!
Nothing to do with painting, I was a little bit disappointed about that, but, still, a funny explanation!
Le mot du jour : poser un lapin I am going to stay in the animal world this week with this expression that could be translated by “to put down a rabbit” but in fact means “to not show up at a rendez-vous without warning” I looked up to find the roots of the sentence and there are two different ones. The first one says it appeared in the XVIIth century where a “lapin” (rabbit) was also a word to describe a story totally made up, a fib. The other one is from the end of the XIXth where “un lapin” meant a refusal to pay and by extension a refusal to pay the prostitute you just had a “rendez-vous” with. Then the meaning evolved and now works for any situation where someone doesn’t turn up to a meeting without giving any explanation. All in all, it’s not very flattering neither for the poor rabbit nor the person waiting for hours in vain!So if you are ever in need to say “Il/Elle m’a posé un lapin !” don’t forget to use your most offended tone 😉
Le mot du jour : “Quand les poules auront des dents” Quand les poules auront des dents (when hens have teeth) means that something has no chance to happen.I think it can be compared to the british “when pigs fly” : same idea, different animals 🙂 That expression popped into my mind when I was looking at my teenage daughter’s bedroom, wondering when she intended to tidy up… 🙄
Le mot du jour : “rouler dans la farine” I was thinking of this expression the other day when I was in the shop looking everywhere for a little bit of “farine” (flour).The expression has nothing to do with the disappearance of flour but means “to trick someone” and can be translated into “to roll in the flour”.
In a tale of Jean de La Fontaine (XVIIth century), a cat rolls himself in the flour and hide in the bread bin to try and catch a rat, but the old rat is clever and doesn’t fall for the trick.Unfortunately, we are not all as clever as the rat, and it still can happen that someone “vous roule dans la farine”!
If you are a “panier percé” (i.e a basket full of holes), it means that you spend your money irresponsibly, like someone who doesn’t check the state of their basket before carrying food in it. 🙂
You can also find this idea in the expression “faire valser l’anse du panier” (to make the basket’s handle waltz = shake your basket so badly that everything falls out). You can picture the person happily skipping with their basket in hand, and all the precious things in it falling out! It is usually used to talk about a person who is not very sensible with money.
These expressions bring up ancient times, but I guess people today would also say “faire chauffer la carte bleue” (to heat the credit card – which used to be blue in France)
Le mot du jour : Cloche de Pâques Une cloche de Pâques is an Easter bell, usually made of chocolate. There is no Easter Bunny in France. Instead, we have the church bell, which, after being silent for the whole Holy Week, goes back to work at midnight on the Saturday night (or Sunday very early morning)When I was a kid, I was told that during the whole week, all the church bells had gone flying to Rome, and when they came back overnight, they rang and spread chocolate eggs everywhere. 🙂 I loved that story, and I loved even more waking up early to go in the garden and discover wonderfully coloured eggs! I hope you all spent a quiet and happy Easter. Stay safe!
“Prendre en grippe” means to take a strong dislike to somebody or someone. When you translate it word for word, it goes like this : to take as the flu. Before being the flu, “la grippe” was first a kind of hook, then a whim, a caprice, and it’s only in the XVIIIth century that it started to mean the disease. So basically, when you say : “je ne l’aime pas du tout, je l’ai pris(-e) en grippe tout de suite” (I don’t like him/her at all, I took a dislike to him/her straight away), you are actually saying that these people are as unpleasant for you as the flu!
“Passer un savon” (to brush
with soap) is an expression that means to scold someone and not at all,
as you would expect, to give a soap to someone. So now that soap
has become rare and precious, if a French person says “Je vais te passer
un savon !”, don’t expect them to kindly share their soap with you but
rather to give you an earful!
not sure where this expression comes from, but it always brings to my
mind the image of a mum energetically washing her reluctant child 😀
Le mot du jour : “laver son linge sale en famille”
In these troubled times where lots of us are stuck at home with the whole family, here is a useful expression 😀
“Laver son linge sale en famille” can be translated by “to wash the dirty laundry inside the family”. It means dealing with problems at home (or work) discreetly, to avoid any gossip. It carries the idea of keeping things secret. It probably goes back to the time where people in villages would do their laundry at the washing place, which was a well known hotspot for local gossip! If you were doing your washing at home, it meant you probably had something to hide…