French Expression of the Day: Tu m’emmerdes

This is one of the most vulgar expressions you're likely to come across in everyday life in France. Here's what 'tu m'emmerdes' really means.

French Expression of the Day: Tu m'emmerdes
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know tu m'emmerdes?
Tu m'emmerdes is an expression that you will definitely come across on a fairly regular basis, although we hope – for your sake – it isn't directed at you. 
So what does it mean?
The literal translation of tu m'emmerdes is 'you're shitting on me'. 
But it really means 'you're pissing me off!', 'you're bugging me!' or 'you're getting on my nerves!'
For example you might say: Tu m'emmerdes avec tes questions – 'You're getting on my nerves with all your questions.'
This one is suitable to blurt out when that stiff upper lip finally cracks and you boil over – and you might even find yourself at the receiving end of it from time to time. 
But it is definitely a slang expression and not something you should be saying in front of your boss or your parents in law. 

Member comments

  1. I think ‘tu m’fais chier’ is more common as in les anglais me font chier avec leur Brexit. Brit in France and that’s me not my French friends

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: La montagne qui accouche d’une souris

This phrase might sound anatomically impossible, but it happens more often than you'd realise.

French Expression of the Day: La montagne qui accouche d'une souris

Why do I need to know la montagne qui accouche d’une souris?

Because this is a fun way to add in French fables to everyday conversation.

What does it mean?

La montagne qui accouche d’une souris – roughly pronounced lah mon-tahn-ya key ah-coosh doon sohr-ees –  translates precisely to “the mountain who gives birth to the mouse.” 

The expression does not literally have to do with mountains and mice – instead it comes from French folklore, and refers to obtaining mediocre or ridiculous results after embarking on an ambitious project. In English you might say it’s a let down, or perhaps a somewhat similar phrase might be ‘all mouth and no trousers.’

Dating back to the 17th century, la montagne qui accouche d’une souris was made famous by Jean de la Fontaine, a fable-writer and poet. In the fable “La montagne qui accouche” (The mountain who gives birth) everyone is expecting that the mountain will give birth to a city ‘larger than Paris’ and are subsequently shocked when it births a small mouse. 

It is meant to be a metaphor for expecting a lot and then obtaining something small or insignificant. You might see this phrase used as a critique for a policy or plan that was meant to create lots of change, but in reality has had little impact.

Use it like this

Ils se sont vantés que le nouveau programme social aiderait des millions de personnes, mais presque personne ne le connaît ou n’a été aidé par lui. Est-ce la montagne qui accouche d’une souris? – They boasted that the new social program would help millions of people, but hardly anyone knows about it or has been helped by it. Is this a case of all mouth and no trousers.

C’est la montagne qui accouche d’une souris lorsque seulement cinq personnes se sont présentées à la fête alors qu’il devait y en avoir cinq cents. – The party was a massive let-down when only five people showed up when there were meant to be five hundred.