French phrase of the day: Avoir du cran

If you're just starting to learn French, or you are picking it up again after too many years since your schooldays, you may need to 'avoir du cran' when you first test your language skills in public

French phrase of the day: Avoir du cran
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know avoir du cran?

Every language has at least one term that has the raw nerve to reference courage. This is one in French

What does it mean?

Simply put it means to have guts or be brave.

A cran is actually a notch, for example in a belt, that allows for something to be adjusted. Here, the word however is to be taken in its figurative sense of “assurance”, or “self-confidence”. 

Avoir du cran therefore means “to dare”, or “to have courage”.

Use it like this

L’étudiant a eu le cran de contredire son professeur – The student had the nerve to contradict his teacher.

Il faut avoir du cran pour être dans l’armée – It takes courage to serve in the military.

En 1995, fallait avoir du cran pour fréquenter en public quelqu’un d’une autre appartenance ethnique – In 1995, you had to have guts to hang out in public with someone from a different ethnicity.

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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.