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French expression of the day: Humeur de chien

We love dogs, but this French phrase isn't one that you would want to be called.

French expression of the day: Humeur de chien
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know humeur de chien?

It's one of the many common animal-related expressions that aren't self-explanatory.

What does it mean?

Humeur de chien translates to 'dog mood', which is a French way of saying that someone is acting like a real grouch.

It's slightly counterintuitive seeing as the animal also known as 'man's best friend' isn't a pet you would immediately think of as being in a foul mood. Think of a dog and you see an easy-going, tail-wagging creature, overcome with excitement just because you walked in the door.

But times have changed and this expression goes back to the 1900s when the dog was seen as an aggressive animal that you didn't want to get on the wrong side of.

Use it like this

You use is as saying that someone is d'une humeur de chien – 'of one dog mood'

Je vous préviens, j'ai mal dormi cette nuit et je suis d'une humeur de chien. – I warn you, I slept badly last night and I'm in a foul mood.

Mon mec est toujours d'une humeur de chien  lorsque son équipe perd. – My boyfriend is always in a foul mood when his team loses.

Donne-lui une tartine, sinon elle sera d'une humeur de chien avant le dîner. – Give her a toast, otherwise she'll be in a strop before dinner. 

READ MORE: 15 everyday French expressions inspired by animals


Sale humeur – dirty mood (bad mood)

Mauvaise humeur – bad mood

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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.