30 Funny French Phrases, Idioms, and Sayings

By OptiLingo • 7 minute read

Funny French phrases are a great way to learn French

Become Fluent with French Idioms

Time flies when you’re having fun. And with these funny French phrases and idioms, learning French becomes all gain no pain. Knowing these French sayings by heart will help you become more fluent, and talk to French locals more comfortably. They’ll certainly break the ice. Here are the 30 most common, funny, and bizarre French phrases, idioms, and sayings.

Why Learn Funny French Phrases?

  • Get an insight into the French mindset: These French phrases are funny because they’re quite bizarre. But, they reflect the French mindset and logic perfectly. This is how French people think, so they use these phrases frequently.
  • The ultimate sign of fluency: Knowing these witty phrases will convince anyone you’re talking to, that you’re fluent. Usually, only the most advanced learners will know these. So, feel free to commit them to memory, and use them in the appropriate situation. You’ll definitely impress French native speakers.
  • Make your lessons fun: Some of these French phrases are outright hilarious. You can get some laughs in while you’re learning French. Spice up your lessons, and reach French fluency in a fun way.

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Funny French Phrases

These are the most commonly used French idioms and sayings. They convey reactions to specific situations. Here are the French phrases, along with literal translations, and explained meanings. Learn them to become completely fluent in French.

1. Il me court sur le haricot.

Translation: He’s running on my bean.

This French expression means, “He’s annoying me.” In English, you would say, “He’s getting on my nerves.” Interestingly, there are multiple funny French phrases about beans. You can discover more below.

Learn about funny Frnech phrases

2. Pédaler dans la semoule.

Translation: To pedal in semolina.

It means experiencing difficulties when doing something. The English idiom you would use would be “going round in circles”.

3. L’habit ne fait pas le moine.

Translation: The habit doesn’t make the monk.

Appearances can be deceiving. The English equivalent for the expression is, “The suit doesn’t make the man.”

4. Avoir le cul bordé de nouilles.

Translation: To have the ass surrounded by noodles.

This is the French phrase you say when someone’s really lucky. 

5. Avoir le cafard.

Translation: To have the cockroach.

 This French saying means to feel down.

6. Être dans de beaux draps.

Translation: To be in beautiful sheets.

Interestingly, this French phrase means being in a bad situation.

7. En faire tout un fromage.

Translation: To make cheese out of it.

This is a truly French funny phrase. You say this when someone overreacts to something otherwise small.  Blowing things out of proportion. The English equivalent would be “kicking up fuss.” So, when your friend makes a big deal out of something trivial, feel free to say this. The origin of this saying is the fact that you can make something complicated (cheese), out of something very simple (milk).

8. Ça ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard.

Translation: It doesn’t break three legs of a duck.

Which means it’s not that incredible. In English, you say, “Nothing to write home about.” This French saying is very funny and bizarre.

These funny French idioms are very entertaining.

9. Pisser dans un violon.

Translation: Pissing in a violin. 

This French expression means wasting time on something futile. Its English equivalent is “Waste your breath” or  “talk to a wall.” Although, neither of these has intense imagery like the French version of the idiom.

10. Mêle-toi de tes oignons. 

Translation: Mind your onions.

It means not interfering or asking personal questions. In English, you say, “Mind your own business.”

11. Il pleut des cordes.

Translation: It’s raining ropes.

This French idiom means it’s raining heavily. English speakers say, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

12. Revenons à nos moutons. 

Translation: Let’s come back to our sheep.

You say this when the conversion brought you far from where you began. If you want to circle back to your original topic, you say this French expression. In English, you say, “Let’s go back to business.”

13. Avoir le cul entre deux chaises.

Translation: Having one’s ass between two chairs.

Being undecided. The English equivalent for the expression is “Being on the fence.”

weird French sayings are great

14. Les doigts dans le nez.

Translation: Fingers in the nose.

This French idiom means something that’s easy to do. English speakers say, “A piece of cake” or “with one hand tied behind the back.” Perhaps the English versions are a bit more polite, but the French phrase is much funnier.

15. Poser un lapin.

Translation: To put a rabbit.

It means not showing up on a date, and its English equivalent is “Stand somebody up.”

16. Ça me fait une belle jambe.

Translation: It gives me a beautiful leg.

This funny French phrase means not caring. If someone tells you about something that isn’t relevant to you, respond with this expression.

17. Être rond comme une queue de pelle.

Translation: To be round as a shovel handle.

This expression means someone is very drunk. In English, you can say, “Drunk as a skunk.”

18. Chanter comme une casserole.

Translation: Sing like a saucepan.

If you want to tell someone that they’re terrible singers in a funny way, tell them this. While it may not be nice to tell someone they’re off-key or flat, this funny French phrase can help friends bond.

19. Manger les pissenlits par la racine.

Translation: Eat the dandelions by the root.

This is the nice way to say in French that someone’s dead. The English expression is “Pushing daisies.”

20. Noyer le poisson. 

Translation: Drowning the fish.

This French phrase refers to avoiding a particular subject by talking about everything and anything else. In other words, confusing the main issue.

21. Faut pas pousser mamie dans les orties.

Translation: Don’t push granny into the nettles.

This French expression means you shouldn’t exaggerate.

Funny French phrases will crack you up

22. Se prendre un râteau.

Translation: Getting or receiving a rake.

It means failing in an attempt. In English, you say, “Getting knocked back.”

23. Avaler des couleuvres.

Translation: Swallowing snakes.

You say this about someone who’s gullible. Its English equivalent is “A dumb bunny.”

24. Faire une queue de poisson.

Translation: Making a fishtail.

You say this French phrase when you’re driving. It means overtaking someone closely. English speakers say, “Cut someone off.”

25. C’est la fin des haricots.

Translation: The end of the beans.

Again, a French phrase with beans. This one means “nothing more can come”. In other words, “Game Over!”

26. Aller se faire cuire un oeuf.

Translation: Go cook an egg for yourself. 

Don’t think this French idiom is about cooking. Instead, you say this to a friend, who’s being annoying. If you’re hearing this from someone, they’re likely mad or angry at you. It’s a call to stop being annoying in French.

27. Avoir un chat dans la gorge.

Translation: Having a cat inside your throat. 

It means having a sore throat.

28. Casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu’un.

Translation: Breaking sugar on another person’s back.

The phrase actually means talking badly of others behind their back.

Funny French sayings can make you seem fluent.

29. Faire la grasse matinée.

Translation: Do the fatty morning.

The phrase means sleeping in. Grasse means fatty, soft, or smooth. It refers to the laziness of not getting out of bed. 

30. Vouloir le beurre et l’argent du beurre.

Translation: Wanting all the butter and also the butter’s money.

The expression means wanting everything, mostly to the extent of being greedy. It’s said to have been in use since the late part of the 18th century. It was common knowledge for most peasants at the time not to expect to keep the butter they sold on the side.

Learn More Funny French Phrases and Idioms

Learning these funny French phrases, idioms, and sayings will bring you closer to fluency. If you enjoyed these witty expressions, and want to discover more, download OptiLingo.

OptiLingo is the language learning app that brings you results. By giving you high-frequency words and phrases in French, you learn instantly how the locals speak. Reach French fluency easily, by learning only the essentials. Forget unnecessary vocabulary and difficult grammar. Try OptiLingo today to find out how much fun learning French can be!