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Food-inspired French phrases

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Why would you tell someone to "go prepare an egg" or "mind their onions"? Your friends will be in awe when you use these beautiful French expressions connected to eating.

The preoccupation with food that exists in France extends well beyond the consumption of matured cheeses, robust dishes, and full-bodied wines; rather, it permeates every aspect of French society, all the way down to the language. There is no better way to blend in like a native French person than by turning to the nation's top obsessions, which are language and cuisine. Learning French is a good way to settle in, but if you want to fit in like a local, there is no better method than turning to the nation's top obsessions.


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1. Les carottes sont cuites

The French have a wonderful word that they use to summarise a scenario when something has been completed and there is no longer any chance of altering it. They remark that "the carrots are cooked," which translates to "the carrots are boiled." This practice goes back to the 17th century when the meals of impoverished people consisted mostly of meat and carrots that had been cooked.

2. En fait tout un fromage

While people who speak English "make a big fuss" over something, French people include food in their overreactions to whatever it is. They "make a whole cheese about it," which is French for "do a whole lot of cheese." Since the beginning of the 20th century, people have been using this expression, which is probably connected to the intricate process of manufacturing cheese.

3. Couper la poire en deux

At long last, a phrase for which native speakers of English also have an idiom. While in English we say things like "split the bill" or "go Dutch," the same phrase in French is "cut the pear in half." Making a compromise or dividing something in half, also known as "couper la poire en deux," is a somewhat romantic way of putting it.

4. Pour une bouchée de pain

Bread is one of the numerous cuisines that has made France renowned around the world. As a result, the fact that there are expressions in French that relate to it should not come as much of a surprise. You may get something inexpensive for a "mouthful of bread," which is the French phrase "pour une bouchée de pain." It is unknown where this expression originated; nevertheless, keep in mind that mouthfuls of bread are not recognized as a valid form of cash in France.

5. Occupe-toi de tes oignons

If a person who speaks French thinks you're being too inquisitive, they can urge you to "occupy yourself with your ears" (occupe-toi de tes oignions). This phrase translates to "think about your onions!" in its original language. It would seem that this lovely French rebuke was first used in the 20th century. Its roots may be traced back to a period when women demonstrated their independence by owning a piece of land on which they could cultivate onions for commercial purposes.

6. Va te faire cuire un oeuf

If someone tells you to "go boil yourself an egg" or "va te faire cuire un oeuf," they are not encouraging you to prepare a satisfying breakfast for yourself. It implies, pretty simply, 'go lost.' It may not be the friendliest thing to say to someone, but it is surely more courteous than other French words that mean 'get out of here' or anything similar.

7. Mettre de l’eau dans son vin

This phrase means "calm down" and has been around for a very long time. The practice of adding water to wine to lessen the impact of the alcoholic beverage is where the expression "put some water in someone's wine" originates. In modern parlance, the phrase may also signify having fewer requirements.

8. Cracher dans la soupe

This is one French expression that you should not take literally, regardless of how upset you are feeling at the time. In English, we may use the phrase "biting the hand that feeds you" to describe someone ungrateful for anything they have received. The French, on the other hand, take the idea to repulsive new heights; the expression "cracher dans la soupe," which means "to spit in the soup," is used to describe someone who is being unappreciative.

9. Y mettre son grain de sel

In English, we say that someone is "putting their two cents" when they are providing their opinion on a topic, even if it is unwelcome. The French, on the other hand, put a higher value on food than they do on the monetary gain; "putting your grain of salt in" literally translates to "putting your money into food." In most cases, the inclusion of this proverbial grain of salt was not requested, and in most cases, it does not contribute much to the conversation. The phrase "sticking your nose into someone else's business" comes to mind in this context.

10. Être soupe au lait

People are said to have a "short fuse" or a "bad temper" while speaking English. In French, you are 'milky soup,' or soupe au lait. It is highly recommended that you should not respond angrily if someone accuses you of doing this. This idiom dates back to the 19th century and refers to the rapid and unexpected shift in a person's disposition that is analogous to the way milk boils.

11. Raconter des salades

One of the most bizarre ways to accuse a person of lying in French is to state that they raconte les salades, which translates to "tell salads." Typically, it relates to making up tales about other people or things that are not factual. Although it is a strange term, it is a delightful way to characterize tales that are full of dressing and embellishment, even when they are jumbled up.

12. Être trempé comme une soupe

It should come as no surprise that there is a phrase that means "soaked like a soup," given that there are very few dishes that are wetter than soup. The French word "trempé comme une soupe" is most often used to refer to a person who became drenched in the rain; nevertheless, the true meaning of the phrase is to compare the speaker to a piece of bread that has been drenched in broth.

13. Ne pas avoir inventé le fil à couper le beurre

Someone is being rude toward you if they tell you that you "didn't create the thread that slices the butter." Ne pas avoir inventé le fil à couper le beurre characterises a person who is not exceptionally brilliant. Someone incapable of even developing a fundamental concept is being referred to by this term, even if it is arguable that very few individuals have truly been the ones to design this particular piece of equipment.

14. Mettre du beurre dans les épinards

What is the first thing you do if there is an improvement in your financial situation? Now, if you were to put butter in your spinach and speak French, you may say that. To better one's living circumstances, also known as "mettre du beurre dans les épinards," is synonymous with increasing one's income and is a literal translation of the phrase.

15. La moutarde me monte au nez

If you overhear someone saying "la moutarde me monte au nez," you should probably get out of their path as quickly as possible. This expression, which means "the mustard is going up my nose," is used when one is starting to feel upset with another person. If you've ever experienced the aroma of French mustard, you'll know exactly why this is such an apt comparison.

16. Être beurré

And lastly, a second French phrase that includes the word "butter." While the past tense of practically any word in British English may be used to signify "drunk," the French language is a little more nuanced. Someone who has had a little too much alcohol is said to "be buttered," which comes from the French phrase "être beurré," which translates to "to be buttered."



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