French idioms

A collection of idiomatic expressions in French with English equivalents and translations.

IdiomsEnglish versions
Faire la têteto sulk
("to do the head")
Garder la tête froideto keep one's cool
("to keep the head cool")
Se creuser la têteto think really hard / to remember something
("to dig into your head")
Se casser la têteto go to a lot of trouble
("to break your head")
Coûter les yeux de la têteto cost an arm and a leg
("to cost the eyes from the head")
Se mettre le doigt dans l'œilTo put your foot in it - to make a mistake
("to put your finger in your eye")
Rester bouche béeto be speechless
("to be left open-mouthed")
Donner sa langue au chatto give up
("to give one's tongue to the cat")
Être au bout de la langueto have a word on the tip of your tongue
("to be on the tip of the tongue")
Avoir les dent longuesto be ambitious
("to have long teeth")
Avoir un poil dans la mainto be lazy; to avoid work
("to have a hair in the hand")
Manger sur le pouceto grab a bite to eat
("to eat on the thumb")
Ne rien faire de ses dix doigtsto be lazy
("to do nothing with one's ten fingers")
Prendre ses jambes à son couto take to one's heels
("to take one's legs to one's neck)
Casser les pieds à quelqu'unto get on someone's nerves; to bore someone
("to break someone's feet)
Enlever une épine du pied à quelqu'unto help / get someone out of a fix
("to remove a thorn from someone's feet)
Couper la poire en deuxto meet someone halfway
("to cut the pear in two")
Pédaler dans la sémouleto become insane / senile
("to pedal in the semonlina")
Tomber dans les pommesto faint / pass out
("to fall in the apples")
Tondre des œufsto be cheap / a skinflint
("to mow/crop/shear the eggs")
Sucrer les fraisesto be a bit doddery
("to sugar the strawberries")
C'est la goutte d'eau qui fait déborder le vasethe straw that broke the camel's back
("it's the drop of water that made the vase overflow")
Caser du sucre sur son dosto gossip about someone behind their back
("to break some sugar on his/her back")
Appuyer sur le champignonto drive very fast / accelerate
("to press on the mushroom")
Étre dans le pétrinto be in a mess / a jam
("to be in the kneading-trough")
avoir la tête dans le guidonto be overwhelmed; to be striving; to be working hard
("to have one's head in the handlebars")
mettre son grain de selto butt in; to put one's oar in; to make one's point
("to put one's grain of salt")
se regarder le nombrilto egocentric; pretentious; selfish; to think the world/universe revolves around oneself
("to gaze at your navel")
être soupe au laitto be quick-tempered
("to be milky soup")
prendre la moucheto go off in a huff
("to take the fly")
faire moucheto score a bull's-eye
("to do a fly/button")
rouler à tombeau ouvertto go at breakneck speed
("to roll with the tomb open")
sentir le sapinto have one foot in the grave; have a graveyard cough; be not long for this world
("to smell of fir trees") - fir is used for coffins
les doigts dans le nezas easy as falling off a log
("[as easy as putting] one's fingers in one's nose")
tomber de sommeil to fall asleep; to be asleep on one's feet
manger sur le pouceto eat quickly; to grab a quick bite to eat
("to eat on the thumb")

Many of these idioms were provided by Jan Underwood, and other were provided by Ludovic Martin

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