10 Must-Know French Idioms

French is a language known for its beauty, elegance, and charm. One fascinating aspect of French language and culture is its rich collection of French idioms. These expressions often have meanings that can’t be deduced from the individual words, making them both challenging and delightful to learn. Here are 10 must-know French idioms that will impress native speakers and add flair to your language skills:

Avoir le cafard – 

Literal translation: “To have the cockroach.”

This idiom means to feel down or depressed, similar to the English expression “to have the blues.”

Example: “Depuis qu’il a perdu son emploi, il a le cafard.” (Since he lost his job, he’s been feeling down.)

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Appuyer sur le champignon – 

Literal translation: “To press on the mushroom.”

This idiom is used to say “to step on the gas” or to accelerate, like when driving a car.

Example: “Si tu veux arriver à l’heure, il faut appuyer sur le champignon.” (If you want to arrive on time, you need to step on the gas.)

Casser les oreilles – 

Literal translation: “To break the ears.”

This idiom is used to describe a sound that is very loud or annoying, similar to the English expression “to be ear-splitting.”

Example: “La musique était tellement forte, elle nous cassait les oreilles.” (The music was so loud, it was ear-splitting.)

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Avoir d’autres chats à fouetter – 

Literal translation: “To have other cats to whip.”

This idiom means to have more important things to do, similar to the English expression “to have other fish to fry.”

Example: “Je ne peux pas m’arrêter pour discuter, j’ai d’autres chats à fouetter.” (I can’t stop to chat, I have other fish to fry.)

Poser un lapin – 

Literal translation: “To put down a rabbit.”

This idiom is used when someone doesn’t show up for a meeting or a date, similar to the English expression “to stand someone up.”

Example: “Il m’a posé un lapin hier soir, je l’attends toujours.” (He stood me up last night, I’m still waiting for him.)

Tomber dans les pommes – 

Literal translation: “To fall into the apples.”

This idiom means to faint or pass out, similar to the English expression “to keel over.”

Example: “Quand elle a vu le sang, elle est tombée dans les pommes.” (When she saw the blood, she fainted.)

Avoir un poil dans la main – 

Literal translation: “To have a hair in the hand.”

This idiom is used to describe someone who is lazy, similar to the English expression “to be lazybones.”

Example: “Mon frère a un poil dans la main, il ne veut jamais aider.” (My brother is lazy, he never wants to help.)

Faire la grasse matinée – 

Literal translation: “To do the fat morning.”

This idiom means to sleep in, especially on weekends or holidays.

Example: “Le dimanche, j’aime faire la grasse matinée.” (On Sundays, I like to sleep in.)

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Avoir le coup de foudre – 

Literal translation: “To have the lightning strike.”

This idiom is used to describe love at first sight, similar to the English expression “to fall head over heels.”

Example: “Quand il l’a vue, il a eu le coup de foudre.” (When he saw her, it was love at first sight.)

Se prendre une veste – 

Literal translation: “To take a jacket.”

This idiom is used when someone is rejected, especially in a romantic context, similar to the English expression “to be given the cold shoulder.”

Example: “Il s’est pris une veste quand il lui a demandé de sortir.” (He was given the cold shoulder when he asked her out.)

Learning these idioms will not only enhance your French language skills but also give you a deeper understanding of French culture and expressions. Incorporate them into your conversations to sound more like a native speaker and add a touch of flair to your language skills! Want to learn French online? Book a lesson with Albert Learning now!