For members


French expression of the day: Mentir comme un arracheur de dents

How to seriously insult someone and get in a sly dig about dentists at the same time.

French expression of the day: Mentir comme un arracheur de dents
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know mentir comme un arracheur de dents?

Because it's a funny old French expression that hasn't lost its validity yet.

What does it mean?

Mentir is French for ‘lie’ and un arracheur de dents is ‘a tooth puller’, so the expression translates to ‘lying like a tooth puller.’

Really, it means you're a big liar.

A tooth puller is old French slang for ‘dentist’, inspired by the old image of dentists as wicked and white-cloaked, armed with huge pincers and eager pull your teeth out. 

 “It won’t hurt,” they would promise. (It always hurt like hell.)


Use it like this

French people most frequently use it about politicians who they believe have not lived up to their promises.

In the tweet below, an MP said about the French President that “Macron has lied like a tooth puller when it comes to the minimum wage.”


You can use it in the upcoming election, if there's a candidate you don't trust:

Jamais je ne voterai pour lui/elle, il/elle ment comme un arracheur de dents. – I'll never vote for him/her, he/she lies like a tooth puller.

But you can use it about anyone who you think is generally untrustworthy.

Ne sors pas avec ce mec, il ment comme un arracheur de dents ! – Don't go out with that guy, he lies like a tooth puller!

Faut arrêter de croire à ses histoires, elle ment comme un arracheur de dents. – You need to stop believing her stories, she lies like a tooth puller. 

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener