Learn French Idioms

Learn common idioms and expressions in French

Let’s learn some French idioms that you can use to impress your French friends. Some of them are still very popular in the France, some less. Of course, as in any other language, there are tons of expressions, and it would be impossible to list them all here.

Expressions françaises sur le temps – French Idioms about weather

Pleuvoir des cordes :

Literal translation : to be raining ropes

English equivalent : to be raining cats and dogs

Example :

Il pleut des cordes, et nous n’avons pas de parapluie.

It’s raining cats and dogs, and we don’t have an umbrella.

Pleuvoir comme vache qui pisse

Literal translation : to be raining like a cow peeing

English equivalent : to be raining cats and dogs

Example :

Il pleut comme vache qui pisse depuis 2 heures.

It’s raining cats and dogs for 2 hours.

Un temps de chien

Literal translation : a dog weather

English equivalent : bad weather, bloody awful weather

Example :

Lundi, il a fait un temps de chien.

Monday, the weather was bad.

Un temps pourri

Literal translation : a rotten weather

English equivalent : bad weather, bloody awful weather

Example :

Il a fait un temps pourri toute la semaine.

The weather was bad all week.

Un froid de canard

Literal translation : a cold of duck

English equivalent : freezing cold, cold as hell

Example :

Il fait un froid de canard ce matin.

It’s freezing cold this morning.

Un soleil de plomb

Literal translation : a sun of lead

English equivalent : scorching sun, blazing sun

Example :

Je suis à la plage, il y a un soleil de plomb.

I am at the beach, there is a blazing sun.

Une chaleur à crever

Literal translation : a heat to die

English equivalent : hot as hell

Example :

Il fait une chaleur à crever dehors.

It’s hot as hell outside.

Expressions françaises pour exprimer un sentiment – French Idioms about how you feel

Ne pas être dans son assiette

Literal translation : not to be in one’s plate

English equivalent : not feeling well

Example :

Je ne suis pas dans mon assiette ces derniers temps.

I’m not feeling well lately.

Avoir la gueule de bois

Literal translation : to have the wooden face

English equivalent : to have a hangover

Example :

J’ai trop bu hier soir, j’ai la gueule de bois ce matin.

I drank too much last night, I have a hangover this morning.

Avoir la tête dans le cul

Literal translation : to have the head in the ass

English equivalent : be half asleep, not fully awake, still feeling sleepy

Example :

J’ai mal dormi, j’ai la tête dans le cul.

I didn’t sleep well, I am still feeling sleepy.

Avoir la flemme

Literal translation : to have laziness

English equivalent : to be lazy, can’t be bothered

Example :

J’ai trop la flemme d’apprendre le français.

I’m too lazy to learn French.

Avoir le cafard

Literal translation : to have the cockroach

English equivalent : to feel depressed, to feel blue, to feel down

Example :

J’ai le cafard depuis que ma copine m’a quitté.

I’m feeling down since my girlfriend left me.

Avoir la patate

Literal translation : to have the potato

English equivalent : to feel great, to feel happy, to be in top form

Example :

J’ai trop la patate depuis que j’ai arrêté de fumer.

I’m feeling so great since I quit smoking.

Se sentir bien dans sa peau

Literal translation : to feel good in your skin

English equivalent : to be comfortable in your own skin, to feel good about yourself

Example :

Je me sens bien dans ma peau depuis que j’ai perdu du poids.

I feel good about myself since I lost weight.

Prendre la tête

Literal translation : to take the head

English equivalent : to bother someone, to give yourself a headache, to drive crazy

Example :

Ma copine me prend la tête ces derniers temps.

My girlfriend is driving me crazy lately.

En avoir ras-le-bol

Literal translation : to have a bowl full of it

English equivalent : sick of, to be fed up, to be pissed

Example :

J’en ai ras-le-bol de mon voisin, il fait trop de bruit.

I’m sick of my neighbor, he makes too much noise.

Être rouge comme une tomate

Literal translation : to be red like a tomato

English equivalent : to be as red as a beetroot

Example :

Je me suis endormi au soleil, je suis rouge comme une tomate.

I fell asleep in the sun, I’m red like a beetroot.

Être rouge comme une écrevisse

Literal translation : to be red like a crayfish

English equivalent : to be as red as a beetroot

Example :

Elle est devenue rouge comme une écrevisse en me voyant.

She turned red like a beetroot when she saw me.

Être canon

Literal translation : to be cannon

English equivalent : to be hot, very pretty

Example :

J’ai vu une fille dans le métro, elle était trop canon.

I saw a girl on the subway, she was so hot.

Expressions françaises sur la nourriture et les boissons – French idioms about food and drinks

Avoir les yeux plus gros que le ventre

Literal translation : to have the eyes bigger than the belly

English equivalent : to bite off more than you can chew

Example :

Je ne finirai pas mon steak, j’ai eu les yeux plus gros que le ventre.

I will not finish my steak, I bite off more than I can chew.

Se remplir la panse

Literal translation : to feel the rumen

English equivalent : to pig out

Example :

J’ai trop mangé, je me suis rempli la panse au buffet de l’hôtel.

I ate too much, I pigged out at the hotel buffet.

Avoir la dalle

Literal translation : to have the slab

English equivalent : to be starving, to be hungry

Example :

J’ai trop la dalle ce soir.

I’m so hungry tonight.

Boire comme un trou

Literal translation : to drink like a hole

English equivalent : to drink like a fish, to drink heavily

Example :

Martin devrait se calmer, il boit comme un trou.

Martin should calm down, he drinks like a fish.


Boire un coup

Literal translation : to drink a shock

English equivalent : to have a drink

Example :

Tu veux boire un coup à la maison ce soir ?

Do you want to have a drink at home tonight?

Expressions françaises pour parler d’argent – French idioms to talk about money

Jeter l’argent par les fenêtres

Literal translation : to throw the money through the windows

English equivalent : to waste money, to carelessly spend money, to splurge

Example :

Si tu veux économiser, il faut arrêter de jeter l’argent par les fenêtres.

If you want to save, stop to waste your money.

Rouler sur l’or

Literal translation : to roll on gold

English equivalent : to be rolling in money, to be rich

Example :

Mon voisin est dentiste, il roule sur l’or.

My neighbor is a dentist, he is rich.

Coûter un bras

Literal translation : to cost an arm

English equivalent : to cost an arm and a leg / to cost a fortune

Example :

Ma nouvelle voiture m’a coûté un bras.

My new car cost me a fortune.

S’en mettre plein les poches

Literal translation : to put a lot in one’s pockets

English equivalent : to line your pockets

Example :

Les politiciens s’en mettent plein les poches.

Politicians are lining their pockets with money.

Rendre la monnaie de sa pièce

Literal translation : to payback

English equivalent : get revenge, taste of own medicine

Example :

Il a volé mon téléphone, je vais lui rendre la monnaie de sa pièce.

He stole my phone, I’m going to get my revenge.

Expressions françaises pour parler d’une action – French idioms to talk about actions

En faire tout un fromage

Literal translation : make a whole cheese

English equivalent : to create a storm in a tea cup, to make a mountain out of a molehill

Example :

Elle en a fait tout un fromage pour rien.

She created a storm in a tea cup for nothing.

Tourner au vinaigre

Literal translation : to turn to vinegar

English equivalent : to get out of control, to get nasty, to turn / go sour

Example :

La relation avec sa femme a tourné au vinaigre.

The relationship with his wife has turned sour.

Faire la grasse matinée

Literal translation : to do the fat morning

English equivalent : to sleep in / late, to have a lie-in

Example :

Demain c’est dimanche, je vais faire la grasse matinée.

Tomorrow is Sunday, I’m going to sleep late.

Raconter des salades

Literal translation : to tell salads

English equivalent : to talk bullshit, to spin a yarn, to tell Texan tales, to tell a tall tale

Example :

Martin ne raconte que des salades.

Martin only talks bullshit.

Faire l’andouille

Literal translation : to make the sausage

English equivalent : to act silly

Example :

S’il te plaît Sophie, arrête de faire l’andouille.

Please, Sophie, stop acting silly.

You can also learn the French idioms with our video :

We hope this lesson was helpful for you, if you have any questions, please leave a comment.

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