Posing as a rabbit, telling tales of salads and other French idioms.

I feel I’ve been neglecting the language side of the blog a bit recently, so I thought I’d rectify this with a post on French idioms.

Many are basically the same as English. Par exemple: ‘être malade comme un chien/to be as sick as a dog’,  ‘avoir la main verte/to have green fingers’. But then there are plenty that have no direct equivalent. Here are some of my favourites:

‘Raconter des salades’:

Literally, ‘to recount of the salads’. Translates better as ‘to tell tales of salads’. Meaning: to tell lies/to exaggerate. Apparently deriving from street vendors attempting to sell pedestrians salads by claiming their salad was full of wonderful ingredients which were better than the other vendors on the street.

‘En faire un fromage’: 

Literally, ‘to make a cheese out of something’. Its closest equivalent in English is ‘to make a mountain out of a molehill.’ The meaning here seems to derive from the idea of taking a lot of small things (ingredients) and turning them into a big thing (a cheese).

‘Broyer du noire’:

Literally, ‘to pound at the darkness’. Meaning feeling deeply melancholic and depressed. Originally from the argot of painters and chemists.

‘Poser un lapin’:

Literally, ‘to pose as a rabbit’. Originally meaning to see a prostitute and leave without paying, this now means ‘to stand someone up’. The exact origin is unknown, but it has been speculated it is after the fashion of rabbits to wait until you are nearly close enough to touch them before they bolt. Close, but not close enough.

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