French expression of the day: Soupe à la grimace

French expression of the day: Soupe à la grimace
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This is a soup you really don't want to get served for dinner.

Why do I need to know soupe à la grimace?

Because it’s pretty canny for certain situations.

What does it mean?

Just like soupe à l’onion means ‘onion soup’, soupe à la grimace directly translates as ‘grimace soup’.

However, as you may have guessed, the difference between the two is that the soupe à la grimace is inedible.

“Grimace” means the same in French and English: a facial expression that shows how you feel, for example unhappy, tired or disgusted over meal (like a soup).

Soupe à la grimace is like a sour-faced emoji, only it’s the general vibe.

If a dinner discussion turns into an argument and the whole atmosphere sours, you could say c’est la soupe à la grimace – it’s grimace soup.

French online dictionaries translate the term as mauvaise humeur (bad mood), quelque chose de désagréable (something disagreeable) or une mauvaise ambiance (bad atmosphere).

There can be soupe à la grimace on the highway as impatient drivers blocked by traffic jams try to get home. There can be soupe à la grimace at home after someone promised they would take out the smelly trash before the family weekend trip, but forgot.

Soupe à la grimace is something that *is* rather than something you *do*, hence why the expression generally goes c’est la soupe à la grimace (it’s grimace soup) or c’était la soup à la grimace (it was grimace soup). It’s rarer to hear someone say tu m’as fait une soupe à la grimace, as in ‘you made me a grimace soup’, even if this sounds like the more logical option.

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See also on The Local:

Use it like this

C’est la soupe à la grimace dans l’équipe de France de foot en ce moment depuis qu’ils ont perdu contre l’Espagne. – The atmosphere in the French football team has been bad ever since they lost to Spain.

C’était vraiment la soupe à la grimace à Paris hier lors de l’annonce du troisième confinement. – The mood in Paris was really bad yesterday when they announced the third lockdown.

Après le resultat des élections, je peux vous dire que c’est vraiment la soupe à la grimace dans le camp du président. – After the election results, I can tell you that the mood has been bad in the president’s camp.

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