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French Idiots, I Mean Idioms

My favorite husband, David, always uses these weird French phrases that I don’t understand. My French is juvenile at best and when he throws in these bizarre phrases I get even more confused. I ask him about it and he will say, “Oh, that’s just what we say in French.” My response, “Oh, like an idiom?” “No,” he will say, “it’s just a French phrase.” My response, “That’s an idiom, idiot.” His response: “Learn to speak French, idiot.”

Definition of idiom:/ˈɪdɪəm/noun – a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words  

Definition of idiot:/ id-ee-uht/noun – an utterly foolish or senseless person

Gracie and I love to tease David about his use of the English language. David likes to tease us about our lack of the French language. Although David speaks English perfectly…some of his English phrases are just a bit off. He always says to me, “Get off your high horses.” It’s just one horse, David. Get off your high horse. Sometimes David will write emails on my behalf (in English) and when I proofread them, I scream in protest, “Bunny, you can’t send that! Oh my God, not only are your choice of words offensive, but also people will think I missed the first five years of elementary English grammar.” Two thirds of our lives in my household are lost in translation. It’s probably just as well.

Every language has idioms , but the French idioms I think are the most charming. Here are some examples…
  • Pédaler dans la sémoule – “to peddle in the semolina” – to become insane / senile
  • C'est la goutte d'eau qui fait déborder le vase– “it’s the drop of water that made the vase overflow” – the straw that broke the camel's back
  • Coup de foudre – “bolt or flash of lightning” – love at first sight
  • Être sur son 31 – “to be on your 31” – that you are wearing your most beautiful clothes, that you are elegant
How cute are those idioms? But even cuter are French culinary idioms. One of my favorite food blogs in France is called Chocolate and Zucchini. The author, Clotilde Dusoulier, has written a new book called Edible French. It is a compilation of charming French culinary idioms. Here are some examples…


  •       Papa gâteau – “cake daddy” – an affectionate doting father. Not to be confused with “sugar daddy.”
  •       Changer de crémerie – “changing creameries” – means taking your business elsewhere
  •        Ne pas manger de ce pain-là – “not eating that kind of bread” – Means refusing to act in a way that goes against your values
  •        Couper la poire en deux – “cutting the pear in two” – to reach a compromise, to settle a dispute
  •        Cœur d’artichaut – “artichoke heart” – describes someone who falls in love easily and frequently, possibly with several people at the same time  

Clotilde's book, Edible French, comes out in October, but you can preorder it HERE.
(This would be a great gift for those obnoxious Francophile friends)

That’s all for today, because I am knee-deep into a book that came out last year called The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It is no wonder she won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. There is an interesting review in Vanity Fair regarding the book. Apparently, there’s a little controversy… You can read it HERE.

A toute!


  1. Keep writing and we will keep reading! Hilarious post, will memorize all those idioms;) to impress my French family and friends, bien sur.

  2. Oh this made me laugh out loud, yes, Ellie I blame you for reducing me to LOL. ;) But as I also have a French man in my life (and with all respect to him - and to you - may I say that your David is a frickin' hottie), I go through the exact same responses. He also says "get off your high horses"! (And what does it say about us that our men use that term? Oops.) And I regret ever teaching him "smart ass" because he confuses it with smart aleck at inappropriate times...I could go on...Eh oui, we love them though...
    Bisous à toi.