Mouth fun to feet fingers – 18 French words you just can’t translate literally

Mouth fun to feet fingers - 18 French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP
Translating a language literally is never a good idea, but it can be quite funny.
Here are some of our favourite examples of when a French word doesn’t quite mean the same thing in English.
 
Starting with an old classic:
 
Throat support – Soutien-gorge (Bra)
 
Ladies, want to buy some nice lingerie? Well don’t forget that French researchers said in 2013 that women would be better off without their “throat support”
 
Photo:Cristina Fernández/Flickr
 
Mouth fun – Amuse-bouche (Appetiser)
 
Want a yummy little treat before dinner? Then why not try a “mouth fun”.
 
A blue – Un bleu (Bruise)
 
When you get hurt, the little mark that appears is simply called a “blue” in France. 
 
Feet fingers – Doigts de pieds (Toes)
 
What are toes, if not “feet fingers” anyway?

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

 
Photo: Josie Hill/Flickr
 
Pain sufferer – Souffre-douleur (Scapegoat)
 
Makes more sense than “scapegoat” anyway. 
 
Stupid thought – pense-bête (Reminder note)
 
If you really have trouble getting organised in your daily tasks, opt for a “pense-bête” which actually means a reminder.
 
Master swimmer – Maître-nageur (Lifeguard)
 
They teach your children how to swim and rescue you in case of danger. What a hero, a real “master swimmer”.
 
Photo: Andy Poulaine/Flickr
 
Soft soft – Doudou (Comfort blanket or favourite cuddly toy)
 
The baby is crying. Where’s his “soft-soft” so he can cuddle with it.
 
Boss’s work – Chef-d’oeuvre (Masterpiece)
 
It’s easy to be amazed by a nice painting, especially when it’s the “boss’s work”.
 
Apple of the earth – Pomme de terre (Potato)
 
We quite like this one, here at The Local. You say potato, we say earth apple. 
 

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds

Photo: AFP
 
Little washing rats – Raton laveur (Raccoons)
 
These cute little animals are pretty clean: The French even call them “little washing rats”.
 
Bald mouse – chauve-souris (bat)
 
Likewise French has a slightly more elaborate way of describing bats, referring to them as chauve-souris (although really souris ailées – winged mice – would be more accurate).
 
Joy reducers – Rabat-joie (Party pooper)
 
In France, party poopers are seen as such a threat they’re called “joy-reducers” or, in another translation they are “joy flaps”.
 
Break you! Casse-toi (piss off)
 
Let’s face it, shouting “break you” at someone in English is never going to get your point across.
 
Minute chicken – Cocotte-minute (Pressure cooker)
 
Want to cook a nice casserole dish in just a few minutes? Why don’t you try using a “minute casserole” or even “minute chicken”?
 
Photo: Didriks/Flickr
 
Dress keeper- Garde-robe (Wardrobe)
 
For all the fashion-victims out there, you can add new fancy items to your “dress-keeper” after a long day of shopping.
 
Feet breaker – Casse-pieds (Pain in the backside)
 
Your neighbour is getting on your nerves. What a “feet-breaker”.
 
Money carrier – Porte-monnaie (Purse)
 
Where do you carry your money when you walk in the street? In you “money-carrier” of course.
 
Another version of this story was published in 2014. 

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