Borgne = One-eyed
Represents a person who can only see with one eye, e.g. a pirate with a blindfold over one eye is a “Borgne” pirate. Not to be confused with a Cyclops who has always had only one eye. A “Borgne” person has had two eyes but has lost the use of one.
Frappadingue = Crazy
Is a word that refers to a person or sometimes a completely crazy situation. More intense than just crazy or insane.
Spleen = Depressive state of mind
A state of mind described by Baudelaire in his book “Les Fleurs du Mal” (The Flowers of Evil) and which designates a feeling of depression, deep nostalgia, a pain to live, however it is not completely pejorative because it also implies a rage to live, a hope born out of despair.
Pas fut fut = Silly
Is used to characterize someone who is not very intelligent shortened from the verb “être futé” generally used to say in a less mean way about someone who is not very intelligent.
Many expressions expressing the same thing exist in France, you can also say “Il n’a pas la lumière à tous les étages” which means literally that “he doesn’t have light on every floor” or “Qu’il n’a pas inventé l’eau tiède” wich means “that he didn’t invent warm water” or “Qu’il n’a pas inventé le fil à couper le beurre” “that he didn’t invent the butter-cutting wire”. All these expressions mean the same thing.
Chouchou = Elastic hair band
Is an object that is used to attach hair in a ponytail, bun or any other hairstyle of your choice, it is a rubber band most of the time.
Libellule = Dragonfly
Is an insect called dragonfly.
Paupiette = A special French dishes
Is a meat dish most often made from veal or beef in a ballotine filled with stuffing. It is a typical dish.
Blabla = Talking Blah blah blah
Is a word for talking about things that aren’t interesting or that you don’t believe. For example, “ Il m’a dit des choses qui n’étaient que du blabla” which means “he told me things that were just blah blah.”
Ladybird = Ladybird
Is an insect with peas on its back also called Ladybird.
Avoir le cafard = Literally to have the cockroach = Be downhearted
It’s a term for being depressed, sad, having a bad time.
Casser les oreilles = Literally To break ears = To make your ears bleed
If someone sings out of tune or too loud next to you, that’s the right expression to use. This can happen if someone is shouting or a baby is crying, for example, any situation that implies that the sound level of someone or something is bothering you.
Casser les pieds = Literally To break feet = To be fed up
In the same way when someone is bothering you we use this expression, nobody is literally going to break someone’s feet, it just reflects a malaise.
La fin des haricots = Literally The end of the beans = The last straw/the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Is used to mark the end of time, a disaster, the end of the world in an exaggerated way generally the situation is not as serious as that.
Courir sur le haricot = Literally Running on the bean = Skating/treading on thin ice
Staying on the beanstalk this expression is close to “casser les pieds” when someone bothers you, does something that doesn’t suit you that annoys you then you can use one of these two expressions.
Donner sa langue au chat= The cat’s got your tongue
When someone gives you a riddle or asks you to answer a question and you don’t know the answer this expression reflects the fact that you have given up asking for the answer and haven’t been able to find it.
Devenir chêvre = Literally Become a goat = Lose your cool
Is an expression that represents going crazy, it can also be used for a person, for example, someone “Vous rends chèvre” which means “he makes you goat” so he makes you crazy.
Les carottes sont cuites = The carrots are cooked = To be in trouble
It is about the same as “la fin des haricots”, it refers to a situation that goes wrong, for example in a movie where the hero finds himself in a dead end blocked in front of the opponent and has no way out, or rather, “les carottes sont cuites” which means it’s over for him.
Poser un lapin = Literally To put a rabbit down = To be let down
This expression is used a lot, it means that you have given an appointment to someone and that person never came, did not warn you or warned you at the last minute and that you were waiting for nothing instead of waiting for an appointment.
Un froid de canard = Literally A cold of duck = A cold snap
Refers to freezing cold, in the middle of winter with a lot of wind for example we can use this expression to talk about the weather.
Se prendre un râteau = Literally Get a rake = To get blown off
When you ask a person for an appointment, a date and the person declines your invitation, is not interested, you are “ s’être pris un râteau” which means “to have taken a rake” from that person or “s’être pris une veste” which means “you took a jacket” so it’s a refusal.
Etre sur son 31 = Literally Be on your 31 = To be on point (21st-century slang: To be on fleek)
When you have an important, chic event and you are getting ready with your best clothes, it is said that you have dressed up in reference to the New Year’s Eve celebrations where people usually make a big effort to dress up.
Il y a quelque chose qui cloche = Literally something bell = Murphy’s law
To say in general that there is something wrong, that the situation has a problem, we use this expression.
Chanter en yaourt = Literally Singing in Yoghurt = Singing with a mouthful of marbles
When a song is in another language than your own, when you don’t know the lyrics but you try to mumble a sound, lyrics like you can when it makes no sense then you are said to be singing in yoghurt.
Now you have some ideas, you can use these for your French language exchange!
Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer