Ah, la vache! (oh, the cow!) and other funny french phrases
One of the first funny french phrases I remember is when I was working at a Parisian lycée as an english teacher.
In one of my classes, I decided to teach my group of young parisiens (and les parisiennes) how to play “Simon Says” – in english.
We were going through all the english words – head is tête, nose is nez, ears is oreilles….then we got to toes. I pointed to my toes and asked them what they thought the english word was (les enfants, quel est le mot?).
I waited a few moments, hoping one of the children would put up their hand and answer.
Sophie, a bright and inquisitive student, looked at me with a puzzled face, and then piped up: “Feet fingers?”
I tried my best not to burst out laughing (I was the teacher so had to maintain my composure!)
“Non, Sophie, c’est ‘toes'”, I said, with the most serious face I could muster.
Well, I gave Sophie top marks anyway for trying. After all, in french, the word for toes is doigts des pied – which means, in literal translation, feet fingers!
Twenty Funny French Phrases
Over the years, we’ve come across many funny french phrases, not just common sayings that have been around for a while, but colloquial french phrases and slang that’s used in everyday conversation, sometimes coming in (and out) of fashion.
Here are twenty of our favourites…
- Ah, la vache! (lit: oh, the cow!): oh my god!
- à l’eau de rose (lit: with rose water): sentimental/soppy
- à toutes les sauces (lit: with all the sauces): in all sorts of ways
- au poil (lit: to a hair): perfect; flawless
- avoir le gueule de bois (lit: to have a wooden face): to have a hangover
- avoir le bourdon (lit: to have the bumblebee): to feel down/have the blues
- avoir le cafard (lit: to have the cockroach): be down in the dumps; have the blues
- avoir le démon de midi (lit: to have the midday demon): to have a midlife crisis
- avoir un chat dans la gorge ) (lit: to have a cat in your throat): to have a frog in your throat
- avoir une faim de loup (to have the hunger of a wolf): to be ravenous/starving hungry
- avoir une peur bleue de quelque chose (lit: to have the blue fear): to be scared stiff of something
- avoir une araignée au plafond (lit: to have a spider in the head):to have a screw loose
- c’est la fin des haricots (lit: that’s the end of the beans) : it’s the last straw/its hopeless or that’s the end of it
- chercher des puces (lit: to look for fleas): to bug/annoy someone
- les carottes sont cuites (lit: the carrots are cooked): I’ve had it/that’s enough
- quand on parle du loup (on en voit la queue) (lit: When you talk about the wolf (you see its tail)): speak of the devil
- quelle mouche t’a piqué? (lit: which fly bit you?): what’s your problem? what’s the matter with you?
- se fair une toile (lit: to make a fabric): Go to the movies.
- un film trop mortel (lit: a film too mortal): such a good movie
- zut alors! (no translation!): holy smokes/darn!
More French Phrases, Poems and Quotes
Famous quotes of love by the greatest french writers.
A selection of beautiful romantic french poetry.
Common french phrases that you may hear when on holiday in France. And you’d be surprised how many of them you already know (and may use yourself!)