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No. 164: Idioms/Expressions with our Favorite Furry Four-footed French Friend


Two dog things happened today.

One, I came across a great dog related French expression, and two, while playing ball with mon petit chien at the Champ de Mars, I realized how much joy pets add to our lives (and even the lives of some solemn locals who aren’t habitual smilers).

The literal meaning of the expression I came across in a French fashion magazine: avoir du chien—to have some dog, sent me searching for my French-English dictionary. It turns out that when you “have some dog”, you are attractive or have that certain (indescribable) something about you. I want to have me some dog!

Well that made me smile, and want to find out what other French sayings incorporate our favorite furry four-footed friend.

Here are a few of the funnier ones I came across just now:

  • arriver comme un chien dans un jeu de quille: to turn up when least desired or expected, to show up at the worst possible moment; literally, to arrive like a dog in a bowling game. I like the fact that the French have the dog showing up, of all places, at a bowling alley.
  • chiens écrasés: newspaper articles that serve as filler, literally crushed dogs. This one I need to explore further. Can anyone help me out? What is the correlation between squashed dogs and fluff pieces in the media?
  • un chien vivant vaut mieux qu’un lion mort: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush; literally, a live dog is worth more than a dead lion. Mais, oui. je suis d’accord.

And of course, my favorite:

  • les chiens ne font pas des chats: the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; literally, dogs don’t make cats. Well, that’s for darn tooting sure….

…sorry cat-loving readers, but I promise a post tomorrow on expressions with our second favorite furry four-footed friend…and s’il vous plaît remember: Qui m’aime aime mon chien. 


Mais, oui. je suis d’accord: Oh, yes. I agree.

mon petit chien: my little (male) dog

Qui m’aime aime mon chien: love me, love my dog; literally, he who loves me loves my dog


16 Comments Post a comment
  1. in newspapers, writing for “la rubrique des chiens écrasés” (dogs smashed by cars in the streets ) aka news of very little importance, is the lowest rank for a journalist .

    March 14, 2014
  2. Nick #

    Hi Nancy,
    I hope everything is going well in Paris. I believe that the chiens écrasés expression could literally refer to what happens to a dog after been crushed. As the expressions describes articles with no link (no bones attached), thats my only explanation. Quite Gruesome though so I might be wrong.

    I really enjoy reading your blog, it makes me miss home. Haha


    March 14, 2014
    • Thanks Nick…so a boneless, spineless dog is like a story with no substance. Now I get it. Merci bien! We miss you and your family in Paris.

      March 15, 2014
  3. Yes, it’s less about fluff and more about trivia. BTW, I love the expression ‘avoir du chien’ which I also used as an excuse to post about my two Frenchies….

    March 14, 2014
    • Okay dokay. I’m starting to get it. Thank you.

      I have been MIA from the blogosphere for the last few weeks, traveling too much with my daughter for auditions, so I missed your post on ‘avoid du chien’. I’m looking forward to having a slow Sunday morning chez moi and catching up on your blog and everything else I’ve missed. Bon week-end!

      March 15, 2014
      • No worries, it was several months ago….Anyway, we both write about life in France, so there’s bound to be crossover (and plenty of content to go around!). Bon dimanche!

        March 16, 2014
  4. Love the intelligent expression on your dog’s face as he goes along with having his photo taken in his Parisian cool clothes !

    March 15, 2014
  5. DrV #

    ANd you have also : “un temps de chien”, “un temps à ne pas mettre un chien dehors” =)

    March 15, 2014
    • Merci. Is un temps de chien like the “dog days of summer”? The second one: the weather’s crap? 🙂

      March 16, 2014
      • DrV #

        Actually both of them are for weather’s crap 😉 I didn’t know “dog days of summer” but I saw pretty pics on google 😉

        Searching that, I found that :
        Not sure you can understand all but I was laughing so loud with the ones for… toilets ! Sorry :p

        March 16, 2014
      • The “dog days of summer” are the lazy, hot days of summer when you don’t feel like doing much except for lazing around because it’s too hot for anything else. Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out in the morning for a giggle with my coffee.

        March 16, 2014
      • DrV #

        Thanks ! Do you know the “Compagnie Créole” ? Maybe the jokes are not politicaly correct !

        March 16, 2014
  6. This is such a chic dog…..

    March 27, 2014

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