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French Idioms





To know a language you have to know its idioms, and French is no exception. All forms of the language, from the highly colloquial to the utterly erudite use idioms. Browse below to find the idiom you need, or just explore the many ways you can express yourself in French.

A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V


mal à propos
at the wrong time; at a bad time

manger à l’oeil
eat for free

manger de la vache enragée
go through hard times; have very lean times

manger du bout des dents
pick at one's food; eat half-heartedly (lit.: eat from the tips of the teeth)

manger les pissenlits par la racine
push up daisies; be dead

manger sur le pouce
have a bite to eat; eat on the run

marche comme sur des roulettes
go smoothy; go like clockwork (lit.: go as though on casters)

marcher à coté de ses pompes
be out of it (lit.: walk next to one's shoes)

marquer un tournant
make a turning point

mécénat de competence
do something for free in exchange for getting credit for having done it (lit.: partronage competence)

mener à la baguette
rule with an iron hand; boss around (lit.: lead with a rod)

metro-boulot-dodo
train-work-sleep (n.b.: said of the life of a hardworking Parisian who has only time for these three things)

mettre à jour
update; make current; bring up to date. 1. Il a ainsi pu mettre à jour mon dossier.

mettre à la porte
show someone out; show someone the door

mettre au fait
make aware

mettre au piquet
make someone stand in the corner

mettre au point
create

mettre des bâtons dans les roues de qqn
throw a monkey wrench into someone’s busy

mettre en action
put into action; set in action

mettre en gage
pawn

mettre en rang
line up

mettre en route
start; set in motion; get underway

mettre la clef sous la porte
close down a business; stop a professional activity

mettre la main sur
get one's hands on; lay one's hands on; collar

mettre le doigt dans l'oeil
have a problem; have another thing coming

mettre qqn en boîte
make fun of someone; pull someone’s leg

mettre qqn. au parfum
give someone the lowdown

mon petit doigt me l'a dit
a little bird told me; somebody told me (lit.: my little finger told me)

monter en chandelle
climb vertically

monter sur le billard
go under the knife

montrer de quel bois on se chauffe
show what one is made of

montrer le bout de son nez
show up; appear

mourir d’ennui
die of boredom

mourir en héros
die a hero’s death


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