Taking the fly

I discovered an interesting French idiom today – prendre la mouche – which means literally ‘to take the fly’ and is the equivalent of ‘to go off in a huff’. Huff refers to ‘a passing mood of anger or pique’ A French equivalent of ‘to be in a huff’ is être vexé. Are there similar expressions in other languages?

La mouche means fly, button or patch comes from the Latin mŭsca (fly)

Here are some other expressions featuring this word:

- bateau-mouche = pleasure boat (on the Seine)
- fine mouche = sharp customer
- oiseau-mouche = hummingbird (‘fly bird’)
- pattes de mouche = spidery scrawl (‘fly paws’)
- poids mouche = flyweight
- papier tue-mouche = flypaper
- mouche du coche = back-seat driver (‘coach fly’)
- mouche à miel = honey bee (‘honey fly’)
- faire mouche = bull’s-eye

Source: http://dictionary.reverso.net/

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This entry was posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Latin, Words and phrases.

4 Responses to Taking the fly

  1. P. says:

    There’s also a colorful expression, too vulgar to repeat here, which describes engaging in a singularly improbable carnal activity with a fly. It’s roughly equivalent to the English “to nit-pick” or “to split hairs”.

  2. Zeppelin says:

    German has ‘die Fliege machen’ (‘to do the fly’), similar in use to English ‘to buzz off’.

  3. dreaminjosh says:

    Haha, funny… the afore-mentioned French expression also means “to do a fly”…

  4. Lucas says:

    Spanish “mosquearse” (from “mosca” = “fly”), means:
    1 – to shoo flies.
    2 – (figuratively) to rid oneself violently of an annoyance;
    3 – (by extension) to allow oneself to be bothered by something;
    4 – (by extension) to take offence.
    In Porto-Alegrense Portuguese, the verb “mosquear” lost its original sense of “to shoo flies”, but its sometimes used meaning “to act like a fly (in the face of a situation)”; that is, “to fail to take action due to distraction”, referring to flies that are easily killed by flyswatters or bug zappers.