Oui surtout quand il y a des soldes. Alors, est-ce que tu veux bien faire du shopping avec moi, histoire de se changer les idées.

I'm not really sure what that part in bold is saying. Story to change the ideas? But that doesn't seem to make much sense. It must be some kind of idiomatic expression, I suppose.


2 Answers 2


Histoire de + infinitive is a familiar phrase that means "just for the sake of". It is used to express a simple intention, where one should not look for any other purpose.

J'ai été au parc, histoire de me dégourdir les jambes.

Je suis passé chez un ami, histoire de voir s'il allait bien.

Se changer les idées means "to clear one's head", ie to take one's mind off the (usually complicated or negative) things one has been focused on.

Elle a travaillé toute la semaine pour ses examens, elle devrait se changer les idées.


In the TLFi is found the meaning of this word, or rather of the locution it belongs to, which is "histoire de";

  1. Loc. prép. Histoire de + inf.Pour, afin de.

    • Histoire de rire.
    • Je vous les cèderais pour un morceau de pain, histoire de vous rendre service. (Courteline, Linottes, Pendule, 1890, p. 182)

This locution is explained somwhat differently in the Larousse en ligne; it is now considered to be a colloquial expression with a slightly different meaning : it does not mean "with the aim of" but "with the only aim of";

Familier. Histoire de : à seule fin de

  • Il sortit dans la rue, histoire de prendre l'air.

In another dictionary (l'internaute) we find the following precision ;

Cette expression s'emploie depuis la première moitié du XXe siècle dans une langue familière et en général concernant des sujets légers. Elle peut être isolée en fin de phrase ou suivie d'un verbe. (user LPH's italics)

The key term in this short paragraph is "en général dans des sujets légers", which means "invariably in a matter of little importance" ; this means more precisely "with no great intent, with the alledged intention to". This more exact meaning is given away in the modern expression "histoire de" that's used at the end of sentences to mean "comme ça", which in English you can render by "with no reason in particular" ; the meaning, then, is not strictly "afin de" (so as to, with the aim to) but "with a vague intention of".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.