Funny French Idioms

As part of my final in my French class, I will be performing a scene from a famous French play. I don’t know yet what character I will be, but I do know that I will be wearing a unicorn hat. Because I have one. Because, why not? (And because it may be silly enough to distract my teacher from noticing any mispronunciations.)

To get in the mood for my debut as an actrice française, I have collected a group of funny French idioms for you to enjoy.

Idioms are phrases, sometimes unique to particular cultures, that have a different meaning than the literal phrase. English idioms you may recognize are, “It’s raining like cats and dogs,” and “mad as a hatter.”

French idiom: C’est la fin des haricots.
Literal translation: That’s the end of the beans.
Idiomatic meaning: That’s the last straw.

French idiom: Devenir chêvre
Literal translation: To become a goat
Idiomatic meaning: To get very angry

French idiom: Les carottes sont cuites.
Literal translation: The carrots are cooked.
Idiomatic meaning: I’ve had enough!

French idiom: Casser les oreilles.
Literal translation: To break someone’s ears
Idiomatic meaning: To be offensive with too loud of music, too much talking, etc.

French idiom: Faire un boeuf
Literal translation: To make a beef
Idiomatic meaning: To have a musical jam session

French idiom: Avoir la gueule de bois
Literal translation: To have a wooden face
Idiomatic meaning: To have a hangover

French idiom: Faire un tabac
Literal translation: Make a tobacco
Idiomatic meaning: Be the talk of the town

French idiom: Avoir le cafard
Literal translation: To have the beetle
Idiomatic meaning: To be blue

French idiom: Chercher des puces
Literal translation: To look for fleas
Idiomatic meaning: To annoy someone

French idiom:  A toutes les sauces
Literal translation: With all the sauces
Idiomatic meaning: In all kinds of ways

French idiom: Avoir le démon de midi
Literal translation: To have the midday demon
Idiomatic meaning: To have a midlife crisis

French idiom: Faire le pied de grue
Literal translation: To make like a flamingo stands
Idiomatic meaning: To wait

On that note, I’m going to “make like a tree and leave” until next time. Bonsoir!

17 thoughts on “Funny French Idioms

    • On second thought, …,
      “À toutes les sauces.” means very loosely. A popular phrase is, “Employer un mot à toutes les sauces,” which means to use a word loosely, i.e. with many meanings ( or sauces) depending on your tastes.


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