10 French Sayings & Phrases You Might Not Know

While easy to commandeer for the sake of cheese puns (What happened when the cheese factory exploded? De-brie went everywhere!…Tee, hee, hee), the French language has a wide scope of sayings and phrases that are worth exploring if you’re looking to sound like a native. See if you can include some of the following into your next conversation to sound like a total native.


**1. Être à l’ouest. **If your head is “to be found in the west,” it means you’re spaced out and a bit of a dreamer—AKA the Jean-Luc Godard type.

2. Appeler un chat un chat. This saying literally means “to call a cat a cat.” On a deeper level, it means to tell something like it is without any frills or embellishments. No compliment sandwiches here. Tell us how you really feel.


3. Couper la poire en deux. If you’d like to go splitsies on the bill or meet someone halfway in French, you’ll technically be “cutting the pear in half.” 


4. Appuyer sur le champignon. Late for a dinner date on the other side of town? While you may feel a bit silly telling your driver this phrase that translates as “to push on the mushroom,” you’ll actually be asking them to accelerate and put the pedal to the metal!


5. Coup de foudre. When retelling the tale of how you met your significant other, feel free to use this expression that translates to a “bolt of lightning” and denotes love at first sight. Ooh la la.


**6. Faire la grasse matinée.  **Use this saying meaning “to have a fat morning” for those lazy Sunday mornings when all you want to do is sleep in. Breakfast in bed, anyone?


7. Se faire une place au soleil. To “find a place in the sun” means to earn your way up. As in, capitalism at its finest. 


8. Avoir la tête comme une citrouille. Translating to “having a head the size of a pumpkin,” though there’s no Cinderella tricks here. This saying refers to someone who has a big ego.


9. À la Saint Glin Glin. Signifying “on the day of the Saint Glin Glin,” this phrase means never—because Saint Glin Glin doesn’t exist!


10. The phrase Une guele de bois (or “a face of wood”) = hangover. Green juice? Burger? Fix it with a cure for the curious.