For members


French Expression of the Day: Gagner son bifteck

In English this phrase usually involves a crust of bread, in France the foodstuff involved is considerably more luxurious.

French Expression of the Day: Gagner son bifteck
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know gagner son bifteck? 

Because money makes the world go round. 

What does it mean? 

Gagner son bifteck, pronounced gan-yay sohn beef-tech, is a French idiom that means to earn a living. 

Literally, it translates as ‘to earn one’s steak’. 

The verb gagner can mean to win, but also to earn or to gain/save – for example the phrase gagner du temps means to save time.

As Europe’s largest producer and consumer of beef, it should come as no surprise that this expression is widespread in France. 

English equivalents include: bringing home the bacon, earning a crust, or making some dough.

It’s not offensive, but it’s definitely casual, your bank manager is unlikely to ask how you ‘earn your steak’ when he’s reviewing your financial records. 

Use it like this

Je gagne mon bifteck en tant que journaliste – I earn my crust as a journalist 

Elle est à la recherche d’un boulot pour gagner son bifteck – She is looking for a job to earn a living 

Comment tu gagnes ton bifteck? – What do you do to bring home the bacon? 

Other food expressions

There are other food-related expressions that pertain to earning a living in France. As with gagner son bifteck, these idioms would generally be used in an informal setting: 

Gagner son pain – To earn one’s bread

Gagner sa croûte – To earn one’s crust 

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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