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French phrase of the day: Pisser dans un violon

French phrase of the day: Pisser dans un violon
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
No musical instruments were harmed in the making of this phrase.

Why do I need to know pisser dans un violon? 

It’s a funny little way to express your irritation when things get a little too much.

What does it mean? 

Pisser dans un violin literally translates as ‘to piss in a violin’ but it’s used to show the futility of an action. 

It is roughly equivalent to the British saying of ‘talking to the wall’ or ‘pissing in the wind’. 

Originally the phrase was siffler dans un violon which translates as ‘to whistle into a violin’. 

Given that the violin is a string instrument, such an action would be pointless, which is where the phrase gets its meaning.

In more recent times siffler became pisser to add a more comedic touch to the phrase. 

Use it like this

C’est comme pisser dans un violon – it’s just totally pointless 

J’en ai marre de lui parler, c’est comme pisser dans un violon – I’m fed up of talking to him, I might as well be talking to the wall

Malgré mes efforts, je n’arrive pas à contrôler les enfants pendant le confinement. Je ferais mieux de pisser dans un violon – I can’t control the kids during lockdown despite my efforts, I’d be better off pissing in the wind


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