For members


French expression of the day: Au boulot !

A handy phrase to say to yourself or to any slackers that you find yourself hanging around with.

French expression of the day: Au boulot !
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know au boulot?

Because you are very likely to hear it, either at work or when doing an activity that needs at least a little motivation.

What does it mean?

Boulot is a slightly slangy French term for work or job. The more formal term  would be travail (au travail is also an expression that has the same meaning as au boulot.)

Generally au boulot means “back to work / let's get to work”. It's actually the short version of the phrase se mettre au boulot (getting down to work), but it's more common to just say au boulot

Depending on who says it, it might become more of an order than a motivational phrase.

READ ALSO: French word of the day: Télétravail

For example, if your lunch breaks takes a bit longer than it should, your boss might come and lecture you with an au boulot, meaning you should go back to your desk right now.

When with colleagues, if you say au boulot when going back to work after a nice sunny break, it will mean “back to the grind”.

Also, an au boulot can come from a motivated colleague or friend, when doing a group project or in other life situations such as assembling pieces of furniture, helping someone moving out or cleaning the house in order to motivate the group. 

Use it like this

Il faut vraiment que je me mette au boulot, j’ai pris trop de retard sur ce projet – I really have to start working, I am way behind on this project

Ce nouveau meuble ne vas pas s’installer tout seul, au boulot ! – This new piece of furniture is not going to move itself, let’s go!

Il faut vraiment que l’on termine cette présentation, arrêtez de parler de votre week-end et au boulot – We really need to finish this presentation, stop talking about what you did this weekend and back to work.


Au travail – Let’s get to work

Retournons bosser – Let’s go back to work

Se mettre à l’ouvrage – Set to work

You will also hear the word boulot in a particularly Parisian phrase – métro, boulot, dodo which describes the daily grind of commute, work, sleep, repeat.

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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.