For members


French phrase of the day: Mine de rien

Knowing how to keep your 'nothing face' is essential learning in France.

French phrase of the day: Mine de rien
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know mine de rien?

Because it’s common and tricky to grasp the meaning of when you try and translate it directly.

What does it mean?

Mine de rien, which loosely translates as ‘nothing face’ or ‘facial expression that says nothing’, is the French way of saying that someone is acting ‘casual’, ‘nonchalant’, ‘indifferent’ or ‘cool as a cucumber’.

Mine is a French word that refers to your facial or bodily expression. De rien directly translates as ‘of nothing’, but is most often used to say ‘you’re welcome’ following a ‘thank you’.

However here it actually means ‘nothing’, as mine de rien is that face you make when you pretend to be totally indifferent even if you’re boiling inside.

You DO rather than ARE mine de rien in French. You combine it with the verb faire (to do). Faire mine de means ‘to pretend’ in French, so faire mine de rien – pretend like nothing is wrong.

French online dictionary l’Internaute says the expression “seems to have originated” at the end of the 17th century, but doesn’t state exactly how.

Another online dictionary, l’Expressio, points out that mine is often used in French to refer to a person’s appearance. For example avoir bonne mine (looking good), or avoir sale mine (looking tired or dragged).

Use it like this

Il m’a vraiment blessé, mais j’ai fait mine de rien pour qu’il ne le voie pas. – He really hurt me, but I pretended like nothing was wrong so that he wouldn’t notice.

Elle adore faire mine de rien lorsque les adultes parlent, mais en vrai elle se souvient de toutes les conversations. – She loves to pretend to be completely indifferent when the grownups talk, but really she’s remembering every conversation.

Ça ne dérange pas tes parents que tu fumes ? / Si, mais ils font mine de rien pour qu’on ne se dispute pas. – Doesn’t it bother your parents that you smoke? / Yes, but they pretend like it doesn’t so as to avoid getting into an argument.

Don’t confuse it with..

Mine de rien can also mean ‘after all’, as in: on avait attendu très longtemps, mine de rien – after all, we had waited a very long time.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener