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No. 35: French Idioms: Fruits et Legumes

Steve Martin, Good Cop, Bad Cop, The Pink Panther, 2006

Steve Martin, Good Cop, Bad Cop, The Pink Panther, 2006

“Bizu: And now he’s pushing up the daisies.

Inspector Jacques Clouseau: He is not ‘pushing up the daisies,’ he is DEAD!

Bizu: (glares) It’s an idiom!

Inspector Jacques Clouseau: You, sir, are the idiom.”

Steve Martin and William Abadie, The Pink Panther, 2006

I’ve just started an intensive French course, so don’t be surprised if November’s post are a bit heavy on new vocabulary and sayings. Today our class spent the afternoon learning about French idioms, particularly those with references to food. Et bien sûr, le French adore eating and cooking so it only makes sense that their language is flavored with the stuff meals are made of…

…here are some of my favorites:


J’ai la pêche! I feel great! (I have the peach; I’m peachy)

Couper la poire en deux: to meet someone halfway; (to cut the pear in two)

Sucrer les fraises: to be a bit nutty; (to sugar the strawberries)

Se prendre une prune: to take a punch/hit, or get a speeding ticket; (to take a plum—perhaps the purple skin resembles a bruise?)

Tomber dans les pommes: to faint/pass out; (to fall in the apples)

Avoir la banana: to have a big smile; (to have the banana)

Etre la bonne poire: to be easily tricked/duped, to be too trusting (to be a good pear- ripe for the picking)

Avoir un coeur d’artichaud: to be tender-hearted, to fall easily in love; (to have the heart of an artichoke)


Appuyer sur le champignon: to drive very fast, speed, accelerate; (to press on the mushroom)

Raconter des salades: to tell lies or exaggerated stories; (to tell salads)

Ne plus avoir un radis: to have no money, to be broke; (to no longer have any radishes)

Les carottes sont cuites: it’s all over, nothing more can be done; (the carrots are cooked)

Mon petit chou: a term of endearment; (my little cabbage)


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Melissa #

    Very fun to read!!

    November 3, 2013
    • Thanks! Now comes the hard part, remembering the phrases, pronouncing them, and peppering my conversation with them….

      November 3, 2013
  2. Sarah Larson #

    I love these! And how appropriate that the French have so many idioms that involve food!

    November 5, 2013
  3. MELewis #

    Ha, ha…I’ve fallen into the apples a few times myself! But I always thought that ‘sucrer les fraises’ referred to the elderly with trembling hands….? And I can think of a few more, like ‘pédaler dans la choucroute’ (to make efforts in vain) or ça n’a rien à voir avec la choucroute ( that has nothing to do with it’) Great post!

    November 26, 2013
    • You could very well be right. Remember my class is completely in French, so sometimes when I think I understand what’s going on and have the right translation in my head, it turns out I am completely wrong! So thanks for the correction and the additions. 🙂

      November 26, 2013

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