French Expression of the Day: Tendre les bras

French Expression of the Day: Tendre les bras
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This phrase not only captures the spirit of Christmas but also describes a particularly useful gesture when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why do I need to know tendre les bras?

Because it’s nice to be helpful.

What does it mean?

Tendre les bras, pronounced “ton-druh ley brah”, means to help someone, to welcome someone or to reach out to someone. 

The literal meaning of this expression is to “extend the arms” – it is analogous to “lending a hand”. 

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A bras tendu is an outstretched arm – a term often used in a medical context and a pre-requisite for many injections. 

The phrase is thought to have biblical origins. 

Use it like this

Je me mis à tendre les bras à d’autres personnes – I am beginning to help other people 

Je lui a tendu les bras – I helped him 

Pour inciter les quelque 5 millions de non-vaccinés à tendre le bras, le gouvernement envisage de créer un pass vaccinal – To incite the 5 million unvaccinated people to offer their arms [for injections], the government envisages creating a vaccine pass 

Tendre les bras signifie épouser les enseignements de Dieu, en venant en aide à son prochain – To help others is to follow the teachings of god by coming to the aid of others 


Tendre la perche 

Donner un coup de main 

Aider quelqu’un 

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