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French expression of the day: Ça me barbe

If someone asks you how lockdown was, this could be a fitting way to respond.

French expression of the day: Ça me barbe
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know ça me barbe?

It's to be used in those special moments when you're really bored to death. 

What does it mean?

Ça me barbe is a wonderfully literate way of expressing boredom.

Translated to 'it beards me', the expression is literally saying that something is so dull that it makes you grow a beard that even Gandalf could be proud of.

Ça me barbe – It bores me to death.

There are several theories as to how barbe came to signify boredom.

One theory bases itself on the expression faire la barbe à quelqu'un – 'making someone grow a beard' – which originally referred to a war practice during the Middle Ages where the winners shaved the loser's head and mocked them. Faire la barbe à quelqu'un meant 'making someone look like a fool'.

It may well also be linked to the gesture where you stroke your index finger and thumb down your cheek like you're stroking your beard.

Use it like this


La barbe ! – What a drag!

On regarde Mad Men ce soir ? Non, franchement cette serie me barbe. – Should we watch Mad Men tonight? No, really, that series bores me witless.

J'en peux plus de confinement, ça me barbe. – I can't stand lockdown anymore, it bores me to death.

Ouf, c'était vraiment barbant. – Ouf, that was a real bore.


Ça m'ennuie – it bores me

Ça me fait chier – it bores me (vulgar version)

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

This expression doesn't actually have much to do with lunchtime.

French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

Why do I need to know chercher midi à quatorze heures?

Because when someone makes what should take fifteen minutes into an hour-long effort, you might want an appropriate phase.

What does it mean?

Chercher midi à quatorze heures – usually pronounced share-shay-mid-ee-ah-cat-orz-ur – literally means “to look for noon at 2 pm.” When taken literally, the expression does not make much sense. However, in practice, it means “to make a simple thing overly complicated.” It is basically the French equivalent of “don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”

The expression is quite old, but it is still in use…though it might be more common to find it spoken in the countryside rather than on Twitter.

It was first used as early as the 16th century – the version then was “to look for noon at eleven.” As time went on, it changed to reflect its current form in the 17th century. 

As noon is an important marker for the middle of the day, particularly as l’heure de déjeuner (lunch time), the expression makes fun of making something overly difficult. 

You’ll most likely hear this in the negative command form – as it is something you should probably avoid doing.

Use it like this

Pourquoi avoir pris la route la plus longue pour aller au supermarché ? Ne cherchez pas midi à quatorze heures. – Why take the longest route to get to the supermarket? Don’t overcomplicate things.

Tu n’as pas besoin d’essayer toutes les lettres de l’alphabet pour trouver le Wordle. C’est mieux de penser à des mots simples. Ne cherche pas midi à quatorze heures. – You don’t need to try every letter in the alphabet to get the Wordle. Just think of simple words. Don’t over complicate it.