Take the frog and run!

Tirelire grenouille

Yesterday I came across the interesting French word grenouiller, which literally means “to frog” and actually means “to indulge in shady dealings”, and seems to refer specifically to political intrigues, according to Le Dictionnaire.

A related expression is manger / bouffer la grenouille (literally, “to eat the frog”) = to scoop the till; to clean out the till; to take the money and run

According to Expressio.fr until the 18th century French piggy banks (les cochon tirelires / les tirelires cochon) were usually in the shape of frogs (grenouilles), rather than pigs (cochons), and the word grenouille came to be associated with money that had been set aside by a group or association. So manager la grenouille came to mean taking that money.

An alternative explanation from the same source is that manger is a synonym for croquer, which means to crunch or munch, and also means to squander an inheritance or sum of money. The grenouille in this expression comes from the slang term grenouiller, which was used until the 19th century, meaning to carouse in taverns, and to spend ill-gotten gains.

Is grenouiller still used? If not, are there alternative expressions meaning the same thing?

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