French phrase of the day: Une gueule de bois

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French phrase of the day: Une gueule de bois

This is a phrase that you might need to print out and attach to your fridge, given that your head might be in a somewhat woolly condition when you do need to use it.


Why do I need to know avoir la gueule de bois?

You’ve met some friends for a quick drink after work on Friday. Seven hours later, you are standing in an early house wondering how you got there and how you will get home. And where is home. Drink has been your constant companion. You find home. You collapse into bed/couch/bath. You wake up the next afternoon and you have a mouth that feels like wood - otherwise known as a hangover.

What does it mean?

Avoir la gueule de bois literally translates as ‘to have a wooden mouth’ but its real meaning is to have a hangover. 

La gueule is a slang version of la bouche, or mouth. The English equivalent would probably be ‘gob’ or 'trap'. The other very common French phrase that uses this word is ferme ta gueule! - shut your mouth! - or sometimes shortened to simply ta gueule! which means 'shut up' or 'button it'.

What are its origins?

Apparently, la gueule de bois was first used in the 18th century as a way to describe that uncomfortable situation of waking up only to have to peel apart your eyelids and then discover someone has been sandpapering your mouth. The expression avoir la gueule de bois now refers to all symptoms relating to the morning after a night of over-watering.

How is it pronounced?

Ahvwire lah gull de bwoh


Bonne Année! Ne bois trop de champagne, tu ne veux pas avoir la gueule de bois demain.  Happy New Year! Don't drink too much champagne, you don't want to have a hangover tomorrow.

Mon dieu, ma tête! J'ai la gueule de bois. My God, my head! I have a hangover/I'm hung over.

 Qu'est-ce que tu vas faire pour soigner ta gueule de bois ? What will you do to cure your hangover?

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