Intrigued by French idioms?


French idioms can be fun to learn. They often say a lot about French culture too. What other culture has so many idioms to do with bread?

Do you sometimes find though that French idioms are bewildering? You know all the individual words, but together they don’t seem to make any sense. While you can make a pretty good guess that’ la cerise sur le gâteau’ means ‘the icing on the cake’, what do you understand when you hear someone described as ‘haut comme trois pommes’? As tall as three apples? It’s perhaps no more bizarre than the equivalent English idiom, ‘knee-high to a grasshopper’, but the meaning is not immediately obvious.

Here are some amusing French idiomatic expressions with their literal translations. See if you can match each expression with its real English meaning.

  1. ‘passer comme une lettre à la poste’ (to pass like a letter in the post)
  2. ‘être au ras les pâquerettes’ (to be level with the daisies)
  3. ‘casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu’un’ (to break sugar on someone’s back)
  4. ‘appuyer sur le champignon’ (to press on the mushroom)
  5. ‘passer un savon à quelqu’un’ (to pass soap to someone)
  6. ‘ne pas avoir froid aux yeux’ (not to be cold in the eyes)
  7. ‘être une armoire à glace’ (to be a mirrored wardrobe)
  8. ‘prendre la mouche’ (to take the fly)
  9. ‘avoir quelqu’un dans le nez (to have someone in the nose)
  10. ‘casser sa pipe’ (to break one’s pipe)
  • A. to be adventurous, to have plenty of nerve
  • B. to not be able to stand someone
  • C. to accelerate, to step on the gas
  • D. to die, to kick the bucket
  • E. to go through easily, without a problem
  • F. to give someone a telling-off
  • G. to get into a huff
  • H. to be built like a tank
  • I. to be a bit on the basic side, to be lowbrow
  • J. to bad-mouth someone





Answers: 1E, 2I, 3J, 4C, 5F, 6A, 7H, 8G, 9B, 10D

You’ll find many more useful idiomatic expressions in the Kolibri Languages Practical Guides and Pocket Guides

Pam Bourgeois


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Feel free to send us an email if you any question regarding our products and we will get back to you, asap.


©2019 Kolibri Languages - Tous droits réservés / General conditions of use

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account