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French Word of the Day: Machin

Have you ever wondered who the mysterious Monsieur or Madame Machin is?

French Word of the Day: Machin

Why do I need to know machin?

Because it’s French for … whatchamacallit, youknow … the whatsit.

Machin is one of those tremendous multi-purpose nouns – along the lines of truc, chose, fourbi, or bidule – that almost means what you need it to mean. Who doesn’t need to know a word like that?

It means gizmo, thingy, whatsit, youknow. And knowing it can spare your language blushes in all manner of situations without having to use truc all the time.

You can also use it when talking about someone whose name you have temporarily forgotten – similar to yer man, or whatsisname.

Use it like this

Donnez-moi ces machins – pass me those thingies

J’ai vu Monsieur Machin à la Poste, le mec qui travaille au bar – I saw whatsisname at the post office, the one who works at the bar

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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.