French phrase of the day: Pas dans mon assiette

This is not about crockery, instead you can use this very useful phrase to say a lot about your mood.

French phrase of the day: Pas dans mon assiette

Why do I need to know  je ne suis pas dans mon assiette?

If ever you find yourself a little out of sorts, this is the phrase for you.

What does it mean?

Je ne suis pas dans mon assiette literally translates as ‘I am not in my plate’. But it really means a general complaint about being out of sorts, not in a good mood or maybe a little under the weather. It's probably best translated as 'I'm not on good form'.

What are its origins?

To get to the roots of this phrase, we have to go all the way back to the 16th century.

The idea of a everybody having their own plate at meal times only entered common usage after the 16th century. Before that, there was a shared dish put in the middle of the table and everyone, apart from the extremely rich and regal, just helped themselves with their fingers. 

But the French word assiette actually has its origins in the verb asseoir or to sit, as people sat around the common dish. As a result, one of the meanings of the word has been la manière d'être assis or the “way of sitting” and, for equine lovers, the “position of the rider on his horse”.

This association of the word with a position gave it, figuratively, the meaning of a state of mind or a way of being. Hence, “I am not in my plate” being used to mean “I am not in my proper frame of mind”. 

How is it pronounced?

Juh swee pah donn monn ass-ee-yet


Je vais rentrer, je ne suis pas dans mon assiette ce matin.  I’m going home, I don’t feel like myself this morning.

Ça va, Emma? Tu n’as pas l’air dans ton assiette aujourd’hui. Are you okay, Emma? You don’t look in good form today.

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French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

You'll definitely need this phrase as the temperature rises.

French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

Why do I need to know faire trempette?

Because you might need this phrase to describe that urge to jump in the water once the temperature hits a certain degree this summer.

What does it mean?

Faire trempette – usually pronounced fair trahm-pet – literally means ‘to make dipping sauce’ because the word ‘trempette’ is actually a condiment, or a dip, typically used for raw vegetables. In Canada, the dip is popular, and quite similar to Ranch dressing – a great addition to your crudités (vegetable snacks). 

But this phrase does not have anything to do with your healthy finger-food – in the colloquial sense, the phrase faire trempette actually means to take a dip – as in to go swimming.  

The way the expression came to become about swimming and not eating is pretty logical – in the 1600s a ‘trempette’ was a slice of bread dipped in liquid. As time went on people started to say ‘faire la trempette’ to describe the action of dipping food in liquid – like bread into wine – prior to taking a bite.

It became the metaphorical way of talking about taking a very short bath in the 19th century and now it’s the best way to reference the urge to  splash around for a second before heading back to the lounge chairs to tan. 

While you may  not have heard of this phrase before, you’ve definitely heard its synonym: the verb ‘se baigner’ (‘to bathe,’ but more so used as ‘to swim’). 

Use it like this

Comme la température augmente, je suis encore plus tentée d’aller faire trempette dans le canal. – As the temperature gets higher, I am even more tempted to go take a dip in the canal. 

Je pense que je vais faire trempette et ensuite m’allonger pour bronzer au soleil pendant un moment. – I think I will take a dip and then lay out to tan for a bit.