French Idioms and their English Equivalents
An idiom is an expression whose meaning cannot be deduced from the literal definitions of the words that make up the expression. In other words you couldn’t look up the meaning of each word in a dictionary and comprehend the meaning of the sentence.
Idioms are often deeply ingrained into our culture, going back many generations and used without thinking. Idioms are often funny when taken out of context or spoken to a student of English (who will have no choice but to take the meaning literally). “It’s raining cats and dogs” does not mean that there are cats and dogs falling out of the sky. This makes idioms very hard to translate and represent effectively in a foreign language.
To illustrate how funny idioms can be we have prepared a list of French Idioms and their English equivalents below.
If you have a translation project that involves the use of idioms or colloquialisms please highlight their use in the source text before sending them to K International. We offer a transcreation service that will allows us to re-engineer the text making it suitable for the market in which it is intended for, in other words we will not translate “it’s raining cats and dogs” literally we’ll use ‘Il pleut des cordes’ if the text is for the French speaking market in France.
|Il pleut des cordes
(it’s raining ropes)
|I’s raining cats and dogs|
|Avoir une dent contre quelqu’un
(to have a tooth against someone)
|To have a grudge against someone|
|C’est la fin des haricots!
(It’s the end of the beans)
|That’s the last straw|
|Chercher midi à quatorze heures
(To look for midday at 2pm)
|To over complicate things|
|Etre trempé jusqu’aux os
(To be soaked to the bones)
|To be soaked to the skin|
|Faire choux blanc
(to make white cabbage)
|To draw a blank|
|Faire d’une pierre deux coups
(To hit twice with the same stone)
|To kill two birds with one stone|
|To sleep in (usually when you are late for work / an appointment)|
|Se noyer dans un verre d’eau
(To drown in a glass of water)
|To make a mountain out of a molehill|
|tirer les plans sur la comète
(to draw up plans on the comet)
|To count one’s chickens before they’ve hatched|
|Voir 36 chandelles
(to see 36 candles)
|To see stars|
|Vouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre
(To want the butter and the money for the butter)
|To want your cake and eat it too|
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