Funny French Idioms

Funny French Idioms

If you speak French (or are learning), you'll know that some expressions used in the language can be quite humorous when translated verbatim from French to English. That's why we wanted to brighten your day with Funny French Idioms, phrases the French use which can translate unexpectedly. Next time you find yourself in these real life scenarios, try using French idioms to stir the conversation!

1. It's not all about size... or is it? Perhaps you are a person who is shorter than most people your age, or maybe you know someone who is. Often, this height difference might stir a few jokes from a friend who might say to you 'Vous êtes haut comme trois pommes.' This statement is a clear indication that someone may be making fun of your size. In French, this phrase is a way of saying 'You are vertically challenged.' However, this isn't exactly the literally translation. The common phrase 'Être haut comme trois pommes' actually equates to 'To be tall like 3 apples' (which is pretty small). So, the next time you interact with a 'vertically challenged' person try incorporating this clever phrase! It's a head turner. 

2. If you have a knack for recognizing natural French accents, this idiom is for you. There are instances where a non-native speaker will try to converse in French as naturally as possible, but feel shy and pause mid-sentence to say 'pardonnez mon accent, mais...' (excuse my accent, but...). If speaking to a French native, the listener might respond with a little sarcasm and say 'Non, non, vous parlez parfaitement le français. Est-ce que vous êtes français?” (No, no, you speak perfect French. Are you French?). A clever non-native speaker in this scenario might think to themselves 'he/she must be pulling my leg' in which the following phrase would be appropriate - 'Vous vous payez ma poire?' (the common French idiom meaning 'Are you pulling my leg?'). Technically though, this phrase translates to 'Are you buying yourself my pear?' which could be confusing to non-native speakers, yes, but to the French it makes perfect sense! In any case, next time someone is being sarcastic with you, try using this phrase to see if they are 'buying your pear!'

3. Keeping in theme with pears, there is another idiom the French love to use whenever someone is having a really good time. The phrase is 'se fendre la poire' and technically translates as 'to split the pear' but means 'to split one's sides' (or to laugh extremely hard or have a really good time). If you are out somewhere with hilarious French-speaking friends and are really enjoying yourself, slip in the phrase 'On se fend la poire là, non?' (We're having a ball, aren't we?).

These simple, funny French idioms are often used among friends and are a great way to practice your French. Do you know any French idioms? Make sure to post them in the comments section below and help continue the conversation. Also, you can post them on our Twitter using #jplingo @jplinguistics!