French Expression of the Day: faire la grasse matinée

Do yourself a favor and fais la grasse matinée this weekend, your body will thank you for it.

French Expression of the Day: faire la grasse matinée
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Why do I need to know faire la grasse matinée?

This expression can help you explain how you spent your morning, though maybe not to your boss…

What does it mean?

No, faire la grasse matinée (‘do the fat or greasy morning’) doesn’t have anything to do with a full English breakfast. In fact, it means ‘to sleep in’ or ‘to have a lie-in’, depending which side of the Atlantic you’re from.

Note that Faire la grasse matinée is often shortened to faire la grasse mat

As in: On fait toujours la grasse matinée le dimanche. (We always sleep in on Sunday.) Or au lieu d’aller au travail, elle a décidé de faire la grasse matinée (Instead of going to work, she decided to have a lie in)

Or, in the words of celebrated French novelist Emile Zola: La société, sauvée encore une fois, se félicitait, se reposait, faisait la grasse matinée, maintenant qu’un gouvernement fort la protégeait, which means ‘Society, saved once again, congratulated itself, rested, had a lie-in, now that a strong government was protecting it.’


This expression is an old one, going back to at least the XVIth century, when dormir la grasse matinée was used. Despite a popular misconception about the physical effects of staying in bed all morning, linguists believe that the grasse has more to do with the ‘thickness’ or ‘softness’ of deep sleep, according to Le Figaro.

That means that faire la grasse matinée is well entrenched in the French lexicon, so feel free to use it in any situation.


You could just say dormir tard (‘sleep late’), but what fun would that be?

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French Expression of the Day: Un de ces quatres

The perfect response to that invitation you don't really want to say a firm yes to.

French Expression of the Day:  Un de ces quatres

Why do I need to know un de ces quatres?

Because you will probably hear this phrase while trying to make plans with someone in French

What does it mean?

Un de ces quatres – usually pronounced uhn duh say cat-truhs – translates exactly to “one of these fours.” If taken literally the phrase really does not make any sense in French or English. But in actuality, it means “one of these days,” “at some point,” or just “soon.”

This expression is a shortening of “one of these four mornings to come,” which was first used in the second half of the 19th century. It designates a time that is sometime in the near future, but still rather indeterminate.

In French, the number ‘four’ is often used in expressions to refer to imprecise, or small, quantities. Some people say this is because four is the number for the seasons and cardinal points (North, South, East, West), so saying ‘one of these four’ shows a level of ambiguity. But unfortunately we don’t really know exactly how (or why) this phrase arose.

If you want another way of saying this, you can always stick with the regular “un de ces jours” (one of these days).

Use it like this

J’ai été tellement occupée ces derniers temps mais nous devrons prendre un verre un de ces quatres. – I’ve been so busy lately, but we have to grab a drink one of these days.

Il m’a dit qu’il nettoierait la salle de bain un de ces quatres, donc je suppose que ça n’a pas encore été fait. – He told me he would clean the bathroom one of these days, so I guess it hasn’t been done yet.