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French expression of the day: Froid aux yeux

French expression of the day: Froid aux yeux
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Why, in France, keeping your eyes warm means you're bold.

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.

Synonyms

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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