French Expression of the Day: ‘Avoir le cul entre deux chaises’

Having your bottom between two chairs is never comfortable even in France.

French Expression of the Day: 'Avoir le cul entre deux chaises'
Photo: Deposit photos

Why have we chosen this expression?

Because it’s useful. It’s informal. You certainly won’t learn it at school. But you’ll almost certainly make use of it if you are in France because we all have “le cul entre deux chaises” on a regular basis.

So what does it mean?

Literally the French expression avoir le cul entre deux chaises means “to have one’s ass or bottom between two chairs”.

It is the French version of the English expression of being “caught between two stools”, although it can also be used for the English expressions “to have a foot in each camp” or “to be caught in the middle” or “stuck on the fence”.

It can refer to that uncomfortable feeling of indecision we are often afflicted by where we simply can’t decide which of the two options to go with (or in this case chairs to sit on) and end up in that awkward place between the two.

So for example you could say j’ai le cul entre deux chaisses if you were torn between which of two jobs to apply for.

It can also refer to being stuck in an unsatisfactory position between two sides so for example if you are struggling to juggle studying and working and the result is that you are succeeding at neither then you can say j’ai le cul entre deux chaises.

When do we use it?

As you might have guessed it’s an informal expression to be used in familiar surroundings rather than in a job interview or with your mother-in-law.

It’s normally spoken rather than written although as these headlines below show, some news sites aren’t afraid to to use it even in relation to the president.

Some examples:

Que faire quand on a le cul entre deux chaises

What to do when you are caught between two stools?

Je sais être le cul entre deux chaises.

Google translate will tell you this means “I know how to be the ass between two chairs” but you would more likely translate it as “I know how to sit on the fence.”


If you didn’t feel comfortable using this informal expression you could just stick to the real meanings and use the phrases: hesiter entre deux choix – meaning to hesitate between two choices or another example often given in French is être tiraillé entre deux choses/situations – meaning to be torn between two choices or situations.

And you can also use it without the word “ass” to mean sitting on the fence

The expression “assis entre deux chaises” literally means sitting between two chairs, but can be used for “sitting on the fence”.

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French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

You'll want to be sure to only use this French expression in the right contexts.

French Expression of the Day: Les toxicos

Why do I need to know les toxicos?

Because you might want to avoid using this term if you simply want to describe someone as behaving in a toxic manner.

What does it mean?

Les toxicos roughly pronounced lay tox-ee-kohs – is the French slang term to describe “drug addict”.

The English equivalent might be “junkie”.

The word comes from a French word for drug addiction more generally. “Toxicomanie” refers to the physical and/or psychological dependence on chemical substances without prescription or therapeutic justification.

The official term for a person addicted to substances is “toximane” – and les toxicos is a shortened, more informal version of the term. 

In French, you can also use the term “dépendance” to refer to addiction as well.

READ MORE: French Expression of the Day: Les stups

Some may use this term in a derogatory way, though its usage depends on context and the person speaking.

Use it like this

Le politicien a critiqué le manque de financement de la police et a cité le fait qu’il y avait trop de toxicos près de la gare. – The politician criticised a lack of funding for police and cited the fact that there were too many drug addicts by the train station.

L’homme m’a dit que je devais faire attention en traversant le parc car il y avait beaucoup de toxicos, mais je me sentais en sécurité.– The man told me that I should be careful when crossing the park because there are many junkies, but I felt safe.