For members


French Expression of the Day: À l’ordre du jour

This is a very common expression used by French politicians, businessmen and journalists.

French Expression of the Day: À l'ordre du jour
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know à l’ordre du jour? 

Because it is useful to know what the priorities are. 

What does it mean? 

À l’ordre du jour, pronounced Ah law-drah do jore, is an expression which means on the agenda/program. 

It is typically used in meetings to talk about issues that will be discussed or given priority. 

J’ai proposé un ajout à l’ordre du jour de la réunion – I suggested an addition to the meeting agenda.

Le directeur a défini l’ordre du jour de la réunion – The director set the agenda for the meeting

Ce point est ajouté à l’ordre du jour à la demande de la  délégation du Royaume-Uni – This item is included on the agenda at the request of the UK delegation

The term can also simply be used to describe something as being in the news. 

L’élection est à l’ordre du jour – The election is in the news

Le Brexit n’est plus à l’ordre du jour – Brexit is no longer in the news

The expression is thought to have roots in the military, where l’ordre du jour corresponds to the daily instructions that a military unit would be tasked with executing. 

French political institutions like the Senate regularly publish their l’ordre du jour on their websites


There are many alternatives to l’ordre du jour

Au programme – on the program 

À l’agenda – on the agenda 

Le sujet du jour – the subject of the day

Être d’actualité – to be news/in the news

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

This expression doesn't actually have much to do with lunchtime.

French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

Why do I need to know chercher midi à quatorze heures?

Because when someone makes what should take fifteen minutes into an hour-long effort, you might want an appropriate phase.

What does it mean?

Chercher midi à quatorze heures – usually pronounced share-shay-mid-ee-ah-cat-orz-ur – literally means “to look for noon at 2 pm.” When taken literally, the expression does not make much sense. However, in practice, it means “to make a simple thing overly complicated.” It is basically the French equivalent of “don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”

The expression is quite old, but it is still in use…though it might be more common to find it spoken in the countryside rather than on Twitter.

It was first used as early as the 16th century – the version then was “to look for noon at eleven.” As time went on, it changed to reflect its current form in the 17th century. 

As noon is an important marker for the middle of the day, particularly as l’heure de déjeuner (lunch time), the expression makes fun of making something overly difficult. 

You’ll most likely hear this in the negative command form – as it is something you should probably avoid doing.

Use it like this

Pourquoi avoir pris la route la plus longue pour aller au supermarché ? Ne cherchez pas midi à quatorze heures. – Why take the longest route to get to the supermarket? Don’t overcomplicate things.

Tu n’as pas besoin d’essayer toutes les lettres de l’alphabet pour trouver le Wordle. C’est mieux de penser à des mots simples. Ne cherche pas midi à quatorze heures. – You don’t need to try every letter in the alphabet to get the Wordle. Just think of simple words. Don’t over complicate it.