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French expression of the day: Froid aux yeux

Why, in France, keeping your eyes warm means you're bold.

French expression of the day: Froid aux yeux
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know froid aux yeux?

Because it can be a source of major confusion unless you know its true meaning.

What does it mean?

Froid aux yeux translates to 'cold eyes', like froid aux pieds means 'cold feet'.

But having cold eyes really doesn't make any sense, and the expression is really a way of saying that someone is fearless – but only when they do not have cold eyes.

Ne pas avoir froid aux yeux – not scare easily.

While its exact origins remain uncertain, French online dictionary l'Internaute writes that it goes all the way back to the 16h century.

Back then, 'being cold' in French changed its meaning depending on the body part, according to Expressio.

'Eyes' were associated with 'fear', while avoir froid aux dents – having cold teeth – meant 'being hungry' and avoir froid aux pieds – having cold feet – meant being jealous.

Today, the expression is still popularly used, and you can even find it in one of Kery James' – one of France's most famous rappers – rap songs, 'Amal':

Amine est fougueux, Amine n'a pas froid aux yeux ; pur produit d'la banlieue, Amine joue avec le feu. – “Amine is fiery, Amine is bold; pure product of the suburbs, Amine plays with fire.”

Use it like this:

On n'a pas froid aux yeux – we're not afraid.

Elle n'a pas froid aux yeux ! – She's fearless!

Pour devenir homme politique il ne faut pas avoir froid aux yeux – You can't scare easily if you want to become a politician.


Ne pas avoir peur – not being afraid

Être une personne audacieuse – being a bold person

Être hardi – being bold

Être effronté – Being cheeky

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.