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WORD OF DAY

French expression of the day: Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe

Careful, this tricky expression has nothing to do with your diner.

French expression of the day: Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe?

Because you certainly don’t want to be the one to arrive like a cheveu sur la soupe.

What does it mean?

Arriver comme un cheveu sur la soupe translates literally to “arriving like a hair on the soup”, which does not tell us a lot, a part from the fact that it’s quite gross.

According to French dictionary website L’Internaute, this expression stands for “arriving in a way that is incongruous, unadapted to the situation.”

So don’t be surprised if someone uses this expression while not eating, because it actually has nothing to do with a real soup but rather with someone (or something) who’s turning up at a bad, or unexpected time.

If you are having an argument with your partner at home and suddenly a friend arrives unannounced, you could think he just appeared like a cheveu sur la soupe because you were not expecting him and just like a real hair in your soup, it’s something you don’t really appreciate.

The expression can also be used to point at something (or someone) that's irrelevant. In a meeting at work, you may then hear ta remarque est arrivée comme un cheveu sur la soupe, meaning “your comment was completely irrelevant.”

Use it like this

J’étais en train de préparer le gâteau d’anniversaire de Pierre quand il est arrivé comme un cheveu sur la soupe – I was baking Pierre’s birthday cake when he showed up unannounced, his timing could not have been worse.

Sa réponse à notre question est arrivée comme un cheveu sur la soupe – His answer to our question was completely irrelevant.

Je n’ai pas aimé la fin du film, la mort du personnage principal est arrivée comme un cheveu sur la soupe  – I did not like the movie’s ending, the main character's death came out of nowhere.

Synonyms

Arriver à un moment inopportun – To arrive at an inappropriate time

Arriver comme un chien dans un jeu de quilles – someone’s who’s unexpected and who, therefore, is badly received

 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

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.

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