Word of the day: Poireauter

Word of the day: Poireauter
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Tomber dans les pommes, s'occuper de ses oignons, ramener sa fraise...The French love their expressions with fruit and vegetables. Here’s another to add to the list.

Why do I need to know poireauter?

Because it’s a colloquialism you may hear in conversation and wrongly assume people are talking about vegetables or cooking.

What does it mean?

Poireauter comes from poireau (leek), but has nothing to do with food. It’s an expression used to describe when someone is waiting or hanging around, usually by standing somewhere without doing anything. 


The expression faire poireauter quelqu’un (to keep someone waiting) seems to have originated in rural France in the 19th century, and refers to the method used in growing leeks, which have to grow their roots deep in the ground in order to grow vertically during the winter. The farmers of the time came up with the expression faire le poireau (to behave like a leek) to describe someone who stands around doing nothing. It later evolved into the verb poireauter.

Use it like this

Nous étions une dizaine à poireauter devant le magasin – There were about ten of us standing around in front of the shop

Ma sœur m’a fait poireauter comme d’habitude. Elle est toujours en retard. – My sister kept me waiting as usual. She’s always late.


Attendre – to wait

Faire le pied de grue – to cool one’s heels


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