10 French Sayings & Phrases You Might Not Know

While easy to commandeer for the sake of cheese puns (What happened when the cheese factory exploded? De-brie went everywhere!…Tee, hee, hee), the French language has a wide scope of sayings and phrases that are worth exploring if you’re looking to sound like a native. See if you can include some of the following into your next conversation to sound like a total native.

1-french-saying-etre

1. Être à l’ouest. If your head is “to be found in the west,” it means you’re spaced out and a bit of a dreamer — AKA the Jean-Luc Godard type.

2-french-saying-un-chat

2. Appeler un chat un chat. This saying literally means “to call a cat a cat.” On a deeper level, it means to tell something like it is without any frills or embellishments. No compliment sandwiches here. Tell us how you really feel.

3-french-saying-couper

3. Couper la poire en deux. If you’d like to go splitsies on the bill or meet someone halfway in French, you’ll technically be “cutting the pear in half.”

4-french-saying-appuyer

4. Appuyer sur le champignon. Late for a dinner date on the other side of town? While you may feel a bit silly telling your driver this phrase that translates as “to push on the mushroom,” you’ll actually be asking them to accelerate and put the pedal to the metal!

french-saying-coup

5. Coup de foudre. When retelling the tale of how you met your significant other, feel free to use this expression that translates to a “bolt of lightning” and denotes love at first sight. Ooh la la.

6-french-saying-faire

6. Faire la grasse matinée. Use this saying meaning “to have a fat morning” for those lazy Sunday mornings when all you want to do is sleep in. Breakfast in bed, anyone?

7-french-saying-soleil

7. Se faire une place au soleil. To “find a place in the sun” means to earn your way up. As in, capitalism at its finest.

8-french-saying-citrouelle

8. Avoir la tête comme une citrouille. Translating to “having a head the size of a pumpkin,” though there’s no Cinderella tricks here. This saying refers to someone who has a big ego.

9-french-saying-glin-glin

9. À la Saint Glin Glin. Signifying “on the day of the Saint Glin Glin,” this phrase means never — because Saint Glin Glin doesn’t exist!

french-saying-une-guele

10. The phrase Une guele de bois (or “a face of wood”) = hangover. Green juice? Burger? Fix it with a cure for the curious.