Phrases ou expressions dont les mots portent une signification différente du sens littéral.

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Is “La vie est belle” a specific idiom in French?

There is a famous movie Life is Beautiful - by Roberto Benigni made in 1997 with strong European themes. In addition, the perfume that Julia Roberts promotes, La vie est belle, translates to Life is ...
6
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2answers
568 views

Is there a colloquial phrase for a brash, over-confident person?

I'm looking for an idiom which corresponds to the English "He's got more front than Harrods". The phrase implies more than just self-confidence, but someone cheeky/brazen who will 'try it on'. I ...
6
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3answers
637 views

Meaning of “Chacun y met du sien”

I'm having trouble translating Chacun y met du sien Which I think says "Each one puts their own there" but I don't understand why it's "du" and not just "le" Wouldn't Chacun y met le sien ...
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2answers
41 views

The phrase “c'est au premier qui …”

Sometimes it seems that the best translation would be something like "the winner is the one who ..." : Ils avaient inventé un jeu ... C'était au premier qui reconnaîtrait l'auteur de ces clichés. ...
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2answers
80 views

Comment dire l'expression anglaise « Who wouldn’t? » en français ?

J'aimerais un équivalent de : “I need money.” “Who wouldn't?” Cette réponse suggère « tout le monde à besoin d'argent ». La phase « Qui ne l'aurait pas ? » m'est venue à l'esprit, mais je n'...
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4answers
119 views

Antique expressions “tourmenteroit” and “à-peu-près”

I am trying to figure out what is meant by some antiquated expressions found in Mme. Motteville's memoirs, the phrase: Laffemas avoit promis au Ministre qu'il le tourmenteroit si bien qu'il en ...
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2answers
82 views

How to say growing up

I'm trying to work out how to say variations on the phrase "growing up" to refer to my childhood. Since this is idiomatic in English I don't think a direct translation will make sense.
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3answers
110 views

“fine” in “faire la fine bouche”?

Sadly, I am an extremely picky eater, so it's good for me to know how to tell people this to explain my selectivity with restaurants and meals. But I'm a bit confused by the phrase "faire la fine ...
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97 views

How did “Allez, viens!” originate?

This phrase has never made much sense to me. It's a 2nd-person plural imperative followed by a 1st/2nd person singular non-imperative. I understand it to me "C'mon, let's go!" but it's not clear to ...
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105 views

Quel est le sens de « gorge nouée » ?

Je suis en train de lire un roman, et je suis tombé sur l'expression « gorge nouée » dans cet extrait : Ceux qui ont changé l'école ont dû connaître ces matinées de septembre où, gorge nouée, on ...
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2answers
122 views

Comment exprimer la phrase russe “Хорошего понемножку” ?

Comment traduit-on du russe le syntagme "Хорошего понемножку"? La phrase mot-à-mot traduite comme "du bon par petite quantité" en gros veut dire que "ça suffit!... car on doit avoir une mesure pour ...
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2answers
79 views

Is it idiomatic to use an infinitive in a question without finite verb or preposition?

In two journal articles, I came across a use of the infinitive in French that I'm not familiar with. The first article is titled Enseigner la vertu?, and the second—which is a reply to the first—is ...
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5answers
1k views

How to say “old days” in French?

Recently, I have found a French relative on the net and I want to tell him: I also have a vague memory of the old days. How can I say the sentence above and specially the "old days" in French ...
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2answers
132 views

Meaning of “Autant faire”?

"...comme nous devrons y goûter devant les romains, autant faire un bon potage." I don't really understand that grammatically. I interpret the sentence to mean something to the effect of "Since we'...
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2answers
107 views

Is “rien n'est à craindre, tout est à comprendre” a play on words?

A question based on comments here Dans la vie, rien n'est à craindre, tout est à comprendre (Marie Curie) Is it a play on words in French?
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1answer
80 views

Is “work of the devil” a correct translation of this phrase?

In a letter, the mathematician Abel wrote Les séries divergentes sont en général quelque chose de bien fatal et c’est une honte qu’on ose y fonder aucune démonstration. In the book NIELS HENRIK ...
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1answer
129 views

What is the word/expression that is pronounced something like “bee-ah”? [closed]

My French teacher says a couple of expressions pretty often. Some of them I understand, but there's an expression I cannot figure out what it means. The problem is I can't google it because I don't ...
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4answers
1k views

“Faut pas trop y compter”?

Came across this sentence in Astérix and had no idea what it meant. The main character, Astérix, says "J'aimerais bien une bonne bagarre," and his friend Obélix responds "Faut pas trop y compter." ...
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2answers
88 views

What is the “Mayday Mayday Mayday” procedure in French?

"Mayday" is an emergency procedure word used as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications in English. What would be the equivalent in French?
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136 views

Une traduction de « wildcard », appliqué à des personnes ?

Je cherche un mot qui exprime une personne : qu'on peut utiliser partout qui sait « tout » sur « tout » ... Quand je cherches sur Internet, je tombe bien-sûr sur des termes techniques ...
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1answer
159 views

Quelle est l’origine de l’expression «avoir à voir»?

Avoir à voir signifie avoir un rapport. Par exemple: Sa maladie n’a rien à voir avec la chaleur. Mais il n’est pas évident quelle est la signification de voir dans cette expression. Alors, ...
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4answers
164 views

Définition de bruit de couloir

Je voudrais savoir la définition de : bruit de couloir J'ai entendu cette expression dans une chanson française.
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2answers
91 views

Why do nouns sometimes take an article and sometimes not?

I don't understand why in some cases, nouns have to add the word “le/la/l'” in front of them (e.g: in the structure “avoir l'intention de...” or “avoir l'air de”). However in some other cases, there ...
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3answers
365 views

What are the French “language buffer” words (aka “filler words”)?

I was curious as to how to translate some "filler words" that often appear in English speech but might not translate literally into French. For example, I might often say, "I guess," when talking ...
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2answers
365 views

Is there a French equivalent to the English expression “hot potato”?

A definition from the Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is "a controversial issue or situation that is awkward or unpleasant to deal with"
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3answers
113 views

A la Sainte Luce, les jours croissent du saut d'une puce

I've got some questions about this phrase: A la Sainte Luce, les jours croissent du saut d'une puce I can only find pages in French about it seem to be discussing the shortness of the day around ...
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4answers
157 views

Movie Jail, expression intraduisible ?

Extrait d'un article du journal : [Paul Feig] revient de loin. Du « Movie Jail », lance-t-il en s'esclaffant, expression intraduisible désignant le purgatoire où croupissent les artistes [...
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3answers
278 views

Meaning of “servi pour l'ensemble des convives”

In menus (the printed variety) the phrase “servi pour l'ensemble des convives” can be found in the description of some menus (the multi-course meal). A literal translation does not get me very far, so ...
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6answers
1k views

Translation of “This isn't rocket science”?

The expression This isn't rocket science. is used to say essentially Ce n'est pas trop difficile. Is there a closer equivalent or expression?
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849 views

How to express “this is all about” in French?

What is a translation of the phrase "this is all about" in French? For example: This episode is all about finding a job. meaning that this topic is (maybe not obviously) the actual topic of ...
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1answer
99 views

Ça n'en vaut pas la peine

I understood that this sentence means, it's not worth the trouble, but, Why is there 'en' between ne and vaut? What does it signify? Is it a pronoun? In which other connotations can "en" be used?
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1answer
197 views

Expression pour “personne unique” (Anglais: “white raven”)

En Anglais il existe une expression "corbeau blanc" pour signifier "personne unique" (soit: dont on en trouve peu...) Quelle expression similaire pourrait-on utiliser en Français? Plus d'infos sur ...
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6answers
1k views

How to say “You are killing me” in French?

Is there an idiomatic expression for “you are killing me” in French? or anything that will denote the meaning, except “tu me tues”.
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5answers
338 views

Sens de la phrase « oh et pis ça fait rien »

J'ai entendu cette phrase dans un film. Je connais tous les mots, mais je ne comprends pas la phrase. Google Translate propose une traduction oh and it's nothing too bad Cette traduction est-...
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3answers
147 views

Traduction de « jerry/jury-rigged » ?

En anglais on a l'adjectif « jerry-rigged » qui réfère à l'aspect improvisé/temporaire d'une chose, un mélange de « jerry-built » et « jury-rigged » suggère Merriam-Webster. Alors que Cambridge ne ...
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4answers
663 views

Translation of “can't get enough of you”

I would like to know how to translate the expression: I can't get enough of you in French. Would a literal translation such as: Je ne peux pas avoir assez de toi. work?
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7answers
2k views

“The elephant in the room” in French

In English, we have a phrase 'The elephant in the room'. It refers to a subject matter that is causing tension such as something awkward. (Example situation: Two people have been known to do ...
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1answer
86 views

What is this French saying?

What is this man saying in French? I know he's saying a French idiom, but I can't tell what he's saying.
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2answers
190 views

Usage and meaning of “manger/boire en suisse”

I have seen "manger/boire en suisse" listed as an idiom to mean to eat/drink alone. My question(s): Is "manger/boire en suisse" an idiom that is still in use today? Could this idiom also be ...
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3answers
123 views

La Prise de Saint-Hélier - meaning of “je vous fiche dans la limonade”

There is a song "La Prise de Saint-Hélier" that contains the verse Bonsoir Monsieur le gouverneur Je suis votre humble serviteur Si vous bougez vous êtes malade Et je vous fiche dans la ...
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1answer
2k views

Origine de l'expression « roulez jeunesse »

En recherchant l'origine de l'expression « roulez jeunesse » (que je suppose on pourrait plus précisément écrire « roulez, jeunesse »), j'ai trouvé çà et là des gens disant que cela viendrait des ...
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2answers
215 views

What does “maîtres des tuyaux” mean?

When I was reading a text I was confronted with "maîtres des tuyaux"! What does it mean? I think this has a idiomatic meaning. En croyant œuvrer pour lui-même ou pour la communauté, l’internaute ...
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1answer
167 views

What does “ne font plus sourire” mean?

I'm reading « Internet : trois milliards de prolétaires ? » I don't know What does « ne font plus sourire » mean here: Un peu moins de vingt ans plus tard, ce texte fondateur est plus que jamais d’...
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1answer
125 views

Tomber en français

J'aimerai savoir pourquoi la langue française utilise tomber à tort et à travers et quelle est l'origine de cette utilisation. Si le sens premier de tomber correspond à chuter, on dit pourtant: ...
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3answers
2k views

How to apologise in French

I was wondering, if one was to hurt somebody accidentally what would be an appropriate way of apologising? For example if a child were to hit an elder while on their bicycle.
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1k views

Usage mystérieux de « toi-même, tu sais »

Je n'arrive pas a comprendre ce que « toi-même » veut dire dans ces paroles de chanson (Yannick, Ces Soirées-là) : Ces soirées-là, on drague, on branche, Toi-même, tu sais pourquoi : Pour qu'...
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1answer
833 views

“There's no such thing as love; only proof of love”

Watching movies of Bernardo Bertolucci I noticed that he gave the same idea to several protagonists. And in pursuit to find the origin I found out that the phrase actually assigned to two french poets:...
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2answers
90 views

Comment comprendre « mon cœur … n’a jamais voulu détacher des paroles versées, et le sang » ?

Cette question porte sur la chanson les vieux temps des Ogres de Barback. Je me débats avec deux mots donc je n’aperçois pas comment ils se rapportent à la phrase à laquelle ils appartiennent. Il s’...
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10k views

Three different ways to say “I don't speak french”?

Problem One of the challenges of learning a new language is the "shame" factor. One can feel trepidation for putting oneself out there in a way that could potentially subject oneself to ridicule. Of ...
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331 views

Correct usage for “bien entendu”?

Is it grammatical to use the phrase "bien entendu" in the English sense of "properly understood?" For example: "Even though the sun is not moving relative to earth, there is a sense in which it ...