“Fleas & Cooks” : Some French Idioms explained

Secoue-toi les puces !

“Shake your fleas!”, we say to someone who needs to wake up and act. It’s hard to find the English one. “To give somebody hell” is too hard – for this we say : “Passer un savon” (to pass a soap). “Shake things up a bit!” is maybe OK.

 

Couper l’herbe sous le pied

“He cut the grass under my feet!”. Means… To pull the rug out from under, cut off the legs, deprive.

 

Prendre quelqu’un de vitesse

“To take someone with speed” : outpace (devancer), overtake (dépasser), get a jump on (prendre de l’avance, commencer plus tôt). You got the point…

 

Cuisine

  • Cuisiner quelqu’un : “To cook someone” is our “To grill someone”. Well, it’s France!
  • Un dur à cuire : “A hard to cook” is a hard nut, a tough cookie.
  • Vas te faire cuire un œuf! : “Go cook an egg!” is our “Get lost!”, or “Go jump in a lake!” (do you use it really?).
  • C’est du tout cuit : “It’s some all cooked” : It’s all done!

 

Fourmis

Fourmis are insects (ants), and we make plenty with them :

J’ai des fourmis dans les jambes (I have ants in my legs) : pins & needles…

Fourmiller : to swarm, to teem : to be present in large numbers, to move in large numbers. Interesting to say that we use this verb for flat, “on the ground” events, there’s “crawl” into it. Bees can not fourmiller in France! We have pulluler (to pullulate), grouiller (to bustle with, when it’s busy teeming), and we don’t have any “to mill around”. Lovely!

Un fourmillement (you could say “an antment”), therefore, is a welter, jumble, clutter, but also “the fact that one has pins and needles in one arm”, for example.

Thanks for reading!

 

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