29 Funny French Phrases, Sayings and Expressions for Colorful Conversations
The French language is full of quirky, funny phrases and expressions that don’t always make sense when translated, and might catch language learners off guard.
Witty ice breakers, stinging one-liners or laugh-out-loud funny phrases. Knowing these will help you get more familiar with the French language, sound more like a native and boost your overall proficiency level.
Today you’ll learn about the 29 funniest French expressions you’ve probably never heard of.
- “Go Cook Yourself an Egg!” and 28 Other Funny French Sayings
- 1. Tomber dans les pommes !
- 2. Être haut comme trois pommes !
- 3. Tu te payes ma poire ?
- 4. Se fendre la poire
- 5. Couper la poire en deux
- 6. Peau d’orange
- 7. J’ai la pêche /J’ai la banane
- 8. Se prendre une pêche
- 9. Ramener sa fraise
- 10. Sucrer les fraises
- 11. Prendre une prune
- 12. Faire quelque chose pour des prunes
- 13. Se presser le citron
- 14. Presser quelqu’un comme un citron
- 15. Mi-figue mi-raisin
- 16. En faire tout un fromage
- 17. Aller se faire cuire un œuf
- 18. Avoir un chat dans la gorge
- 19. Casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu’un
- 20. Faire la grasse matinée
- 21. Vouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre
- 22. Avoir d’autres chats à fouetter
- 23. Revenir à ses moutons
- 24. Péter plus haut que son cul
- 25. Je crève la dalle
- 26. Ne pas y aller avec le dos de la cuillère
- 27. Donner de la confiture aux cochons
- 28. Les chiens ne font pas des chats
- 29. Courir le guilledou
- Why Learn Funny French Phrases?
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“Go Cook Yourself an Egg!” and 28 Other Funny French Sayings
1. Tomber dans les pommes !
Literal meaning: To fall into apples
Translation: To say that someone has passed out or fainted.
Elle est tombée dans les pommes ! (She fainted!)
2. Être haut comme trois pommes !
Literal meaning: To be tall like three apples
Translation: To say that someone is short
It is a nice French way to say, “You’re vertically challenged,” although it’s usually used to speak about children.
Vous êtes haut comme trois pommes ! (You’re vertically challenged!)
3. Tu te payes ma poire ?
Literal meaning: Are you buying yourself my pear
Translation: To make fun of someone
It’s a French idiomatic expression for “Are you pulling my leg?” and the French also flaunt it when they think someone is “making fun,” “playing a trick” or trying to “fool” or “kid” them.
Je viens de gagner au loto ! (I just won the lotto!)
Tu te payes ma poire ? (Are you pulling my leg?)
4. Se fendre la poire
Literal meaning: To split the pear
Translation: To split one’s sides, as in, to laugh hard and have a really good time
So if ever you find yourself laughing and giggling about your Franco-American accent among French friends, throw them a fastball by saying:
On se fend la poire là, non ? (We’re having a ball, aren’t we?).
5. Couper la poire en deux
Literal meaning: To cut the pear in two
Translation: Coming to a compromise
The English equivalent is the saying “meeting halfway” and “agree to disagree” .
Pierre et Jean ont su couper la poire en deux. (Pierre and Jean knew to come to a compromise.)
6. Peau d’orange
Literal meaning: Orange skin
Translation: Expression for saying someone has cellulite
Elle a de la peau d’orange. (She has cellulite).
7. J’ai la pêche /J’ai la banane
Literal meaning: I have the peach/banana
Translation: A way to say feeling great
It expresses extreme excitement, meaning that you’re full of energy because you know it’s going to be a good day.
T’as la pêche ? (Are you feeling peachy?).
Oui, j’ai la pêche ! (Yes, I’m excited!).
Using a peach or banana depends on age (banana for an older crowd), but these days j’ai la pêche is the favored fruit.
8. Se prendre une pêche
Literal meaning: To take a peach in the face
Translation: To get punched in the face
It’s the French equivalent of taking a punch in the face. Make sure to avoid using this word in polite company.
Je me suis pris une pêche dans la gueule. (I got socked in the face.) or (I got punched in the face.)
9. Ramener sa fraise
Literal meaning: Brings their strawberry
Translation: To butt in
It’s the French way to say “no one asked you”. If you ever find yourself in a French cafe exchanging language lessons, and the waiter or a friend interrupts with their opinion on your session, stare your learning partner straight in the eye and say:
Pourquoi il ramène sa fraise ? (Why is he butting in?)
Il ramène toujours sa fraise ! (He’s always butting in!)
10. Sucrer les fraises
Literal meaning: To sugar the strawberries
Translation: “sugar rush” or “to have the jitters/shakes”
This is often used to refer to the shakes that old folks sometimes have, in a more soft and endearing way.
Elle sucrait les fraises. (She had the jitters).
11. Prendre une prune
Literal meaning: To take a plum or get a plum
Translation: A parking ticket, a traffic violation or any fine
Désolé d’être arrivé en retard, mais j’ai pris une prune ! (Sorry for arriving late, but I got a ticket!).
12. Faire quelque chose pour des prunes
Literal meaning: To do something for plums
Translation: To say it’s not worth it, or “to do something for nothing”
Since plums are an abundant fruit of France, and pruning them is a low-paying job, you can see why doing something for plums is the French equivalent of doing something for nothing.
J’en ai marre, je travaille pour des prunes. (I’m annoyed, I’m working for nothing).
13. Se presser le citron
Literal meaning: To squeeze a lemon
Translation: To pick one’s brain, brainstorm or to wrack one’s brain
Je me suis pressé le citron. (I’ve wracked my brain).
The citron (lemon) is your brain!
14. Presser quelqu’un comme un citron
Literal meaning: To squeeze someone like a lemon
Translation: To “push someone’s buttons” or to exploit them to the maximum until they pop or freak out
In this case, the “lemon” is a person’s level of patience.
Arrête de me presser comme un citron ! (Stop pushing my buttons!).
15. Mi-figue mi-raisin
Literal meaning: Half fig, half grape
Translation: To say yes and no
It’s a French phrase for having mixed feelings or how English speakers would idiomatically say, “neither fish nor fowl.”
Que penses-tu de notre nouveau patron ? (What do you think about our new boss?).
Mi-figue mi-raisin. (So, so).
16. En faire tout un fromage
Literal meaning: Make a whole cheese out of it
Translation: To make a big deal of something trivial
Je n’en reviens pas qu’il ait fait tout un fromage pour une erreur si minuscule ! (I can’t believe he made such a big deal of such a tiny mistake!)
17. Aller se faire cuire un œuf
Literal meaning: Go cook yourself an egg
Translation: Stop being annoying/cut it out
This expression is basically used when you’re tired of someone’s behavior and just want him or her to drop the act and stop bothering you.
J’en ai marre ! Va te faire cuire un œuf ! (I’m getting sick of it! Cut it out!)
It’s a rude phrase that’s only used in familiar contexts.
18. Avoir un chat dans la gorge
Literal meaning: To have a cat in the throat
Translation: To have a sore throat
If your French friend ever tells you he has un chat dans la gorge (a cat in the throat) with a hoarse voice, you should give him some hot lemon water with honey.
Il a un chat dans la gorge. (He has a sore throat).
19. Casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu’un
Literal meaning: Breaking sugar on someone’s back
Translation: Talking badly of someone behind his/her back
Michel est venu à la fête d’hier soir et n’a pas arrêté de casser du sucre sur le dos de Fabrice. (Michel came to yesterday night’s party and wouldn’t stop talking badly about Fabrice behind his back).
20. Faire la grasse matinée
Literal meaning: Do the fatty morning
Translation: Sleep in
Typically, one would faire la grasse matinée on weekends or vacation, when waking up early for life’s strenuous obligations isn’t a necessity.
J’ai envie de profiter de mon week-end. Je pense que je vais faire la grasse matinée demain matin. (I want to enjoy my weekend. I think I’m going to sleep in tomorrow morning.)
21. Vouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre
Literal meaning: Wanting the butter and the butter’s money
Translation: Wanting everything
This expression would be the French equivalent of “wanting to have your cake and eat it too.”
Vouloir le beurre, l’argent du beurre et le cul de la crémière. (Wanting the butter, the butter’s money and the ass of the dairywoman.)
You might hear it from your drunk French uncle at a family dinner but you’d be wise not to use it in somewhat formal settings!
22. Avoir d’autres chats à fouetter
Literal meaning: Having other cats to whip
Translation: Having more important or pressing things to do
It’s the equivalent of the expression “to have other fish to fry.”
Il a d’autres chats à fouetter. (He has better things to do.)
23. Revenir à ses moutons
Literal meaning: To go back to one’s sheep
Translation: To go back to the initial point of the conversation
For instance, if you’re picking your friend’s brain for her opinion on the romcom you just saw, and she somehow gets going on a tangent about tea pricing strategies in Venezuela, you might want to tell her to:
Reviens à tes moutons ! (go back to the initial point!)
24. Péter plus haut que son cul
Literal meaning: To fart higher than one’s own ass
Translation: To act in a pretentious way
More precisely, it means acting in a pretentious way and coveting a social status or situation out of reach given one’s lack of skills or motivation.
Ma tante Debbie pète vraiment plus haut que son cul ! (My aunt Debbie really is full of herself!).
25. Je crève la dalle
Literal meaning: Bursting the rock
Translation: To say “I’m starving”
Its origins come from a phrase, “se rincer la dalle,” that formerly meant “to drink a lot of alcohol.” “La dalle” is defined today as a slab of rock, and “crever” is a verb that means “to burst or puncture.”
The English equivalent is “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” It’s a common phrase to communicate that you need food—and you need it now!
“On va où pour le déjeuner ?”
(“Where are we going for lunch?”)
“Ça m’est égal, mais il faut qu’on se dépêche, je crève la dalle !”
(“It doesn’t matter to me, but let’s hurry, because I’m starving!”)
26. Ne pas y aller avec le dos de la cuillère
Literal meaning: To not go at it with the back of the spoon
Translation: To make no bones about something, to not pull any punches, to not sugarcoat it
The French use the imagery in this saying, which comes from the 19th century, to communicate that someone does something without using caution, oftentimes while they are acting rudely.
It means to act bluntly and deliberately. This applies for the way people may act or the way they may communicate.
Elle était très franche… Elle n’y va pas avec le dos de la cuillère ! (She was very honest…she didn’t pull any punches!)
27. Donner de la confiture aux cochons
Literal meaning: To give jam to the pigs
Translation: To give something to someone who inevitably wouldn’t appreciate it
Proverb turned idiom, it is now used to express an action that isn’t worth your time. The English equivalent is “to throw pearls before swine”. This saying is used to refer to giving something to someone who inevitably wouldn’t appreciate it, just as pigs don’t appreciate the homemade jam you so kindly treated them with.
Mais non, il s’en fiche, c’est comme donner de la confiture aux cochons. (No, he doesn’t care. It would be like throwing pearls before swine.)
28. Les chiens ne font pas des chats
Literal meaning: Dogs do not make cats
Translation: To express how families are often similar to each other
For example, when you begin to develop the habits your mother has that used to bother you so much as a child, your boyfriend might laugh and say, “Les chiens ne font pas des chats.”
The English equivalent would be saying “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Oui, les chiens ne font pas des chats. (Yeah, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!)
29. Courir le guilledou
Literal meaning: To run
Translation: To chase skirts, to womanize, to philander
The phrase means to pursue new adventures, preferably adventures with a lot of shenanigans and women.
“Courir” means “to run,” and “le guilledou” originates from the verb “guiller,” meaning “to trick or deceive.” “Le guilledou” is out of commission in the French language, only possessing meaning in the context of this phrase!
“Il est où, James ?” (“Where’s James?”)
“Oh, je ne sais pas, je suppose qu’il court le guilledou.” (“No idea. I’m sure he’s out chasing skirts.”)
Why Learn Funny French Phrases?
It’s a breath of fresh air in your learning journey.
I think we can agree that learning is way, way easier when it’s actually fun and enjoyable. Although this seems like a no-brainer, it’s important to keep in mind as you progress.
It’s easy to try going too far, too quickly, particularly when it comes to language learning.
The solution? Break the monotonous nature of your learning journey with funny French phrases!
Laugh, have fun, have a good time. That’s why we’re learning new languages in the first place.
You’ll be learning real French.
As you’re probably aware, the kind of French that’s spoken in everyday conversation in France is often quite different from the formal stuff in your textbook.
The French language is full of slang, idioms and yes, quirky expressions as well.
And what better way to speak real French than knowing about France’s most eccentric (and authentic) phrases?
It’ll make for great conversation openers.
Being able to communicate your thoughts in a clear way in French is something that you should strive for, and something that’ll eventually make you truly fluent.
Obviously, practicing your speaking skills is something that requires two people. Hence why witty conversation openers come in handy!
Breaking the ice with a typical, funny French phrase will make you the center of attention and help you get better at speaking French.
Most likely French people will be impressed by your knowledge of their country’s funniest phrases and expressions. And you can go from there!
Sprinkling sayings like these into French conversations can make you feel more natural and at ease.
The more you add, the more seasoned of a speaker you’ll be!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)