For members


French Expression of the Day: Sourire du plombier

The cheery sounding phrase has nothing to do with a happy tradesman (or woman).

French Expression of the Day: Sourire du plombier

Why do I need to know sourire du plombier?

If ever you find yourself in a supermarket or Metro when someone bends down just that little bit too far and you get a vision that you would have preferred to live without, sourire du plombier is the phrase for you. 

What does it mean?

Sourire du plombier literally means ‘the plumber's smile’ but it also has a figurative meaning. It's that slightly embarrassing encounter between a customer and the beginning of their craftsman’s buttock and is the equivalent to the English phrase ‘builder’s bum’.  


It occurs when one person is leaning forward or squatting and the elastic has slightly gone in their trouser waistband. The French version is a little broader, however, and also refers to the sighting of underwear above trousers. In other words, almost every male teenager across the world is guilty of showing a sourire du plombier

Interestingly, a French company identified this style issue and created a line of boxer shorts specifically designed to hide your sourire


How is it pronounced?

Saw-reer do plawm-beeaye


Si tu te penches encore plus, je verrai bien plus qu'un simple sourire du plombier. If you bend over any further, I’ll see a lot more than just a plumber’s smile.


Member comments

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


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.