15 Funny Colloquial French Expressions With Animals

Salut !

You looooove colloquial French so here’s your monthly dose of French expressions. They will surprise your French friends, color your language, and basically, make you laugh. In this episode, you’ll learn a ton of colloquial French, with animals: « laid comme un pou », « un froid de canard », « avoir un QI d’huitre »… 🙂




Et toi ?

Did you know these expressions?
Which one is your favorite?
Is there another one you love that you’d like to add to the list?

Bonne journée et à tout de suite dans les commentaires !

Géraldine

Join the conversation!

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  • Esr-ce que on peut dire ” lest un cochon de rue?” “He is a road hog?

    Ici, on trouve une emission de France Culture sur l’histoire des cochons. Très drole, très intéressante.

  • This is funny to see as I was watching your videos a lot this week, but had not yet seen this one, and I was talking about an expression that my mother uses in English about the rain. Then you said in French something very similar! The expression is, “It’s raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock.” Mais ce n’est pas vraiment poli!

    Une autre expression de ma mère: Quan quel qu’un demande, “Ça va?” de temps en temps, elle a repondu, “Finer than frog’s hair.” Since frogs don’t have hair, of course, it means she is feeling very good. It is not a common expression, so it always surprises people and makes them laugh.

  • Je suis content je ne se pas commen expliquer je suis beaucoup progrès merci beaucoup pour ecrir pour moi pas fassile corrige svp merci

  • “Avoir un QI d’huitre” / “Pleuvoir comme vache qui pisse”. Why is the indefinite article “une” for the animals omitted in both cases please?

  • Il y a un chat dans ma gorge. J’aime aussi “je donne ma langue au chat.” En anglais, on dit, “Cat got your tongue?” mais ça veut dire “tu n’a rien à dire?” en attendant une réponse.

  • En Espagne, dire qu’une personne est “renard” (“zorro” en espagnol) ne signifie pas qu’il soit malin ou rusé; c’est plutôt qu’il est têtu, obstiné. Sinon en anglais, c’est la mule qui est obstinée. Aussi, en espagnol, on dit “fou comme une chèvre.” En anglais, la folie est attribuée à de divers oiseau, en particulier le huard ou le geai, et parfois même le hibou (en dépit d’être aussi connu pour sa sagesse, tout au contraire!) . Il est vrai que les animaux se voient autrement dans chaque pays!

  • As you are very attractive I’m sure you meet many “Chaude Lapins!”
    How about Vachment bon! & A la Vache! Also the proverb regarding teaching a “Vieux Singe to grimace” The English are as Hungry as a horse & the French are as hungry as a Boeuf! You could do a video on “Fruits & Vegetable expressions – fin de les haricots , vos carrotes sont cuit, tombe dans les pommes, I think you have already mentioned Mange les pis en lit par les rascine! faire un Banane etc

  • Bonjour Geraldine, This is not French, but thought you may be amused by this Retort we have in Aus when soeone is askinf silly questions, or too many questions we say “I am making a wigwam for a horses bridle” Do you say anything like that in French?
    J’aime bien votre site, Merci
    Janine

    • I thought the expression was a stock reply to the question “what are you doing?” and the answer I remember from an old aussie mate was
      “making a whim-wham for a goose’s bridle”. Either way it is nonsense.
      The whim-wham must have been influenced by suggestion of the wild west into Wig-wam and also the bridle seems to have brought forth the horse.

  • I also like, “J’ai des fourmis.” In the US we might say, “my foot is asleep” instead.

  • J’aime bien les proverbes français comme, le chien qui aboie ne mord pas; et Il ne faut jamais courir deux lièvres à la fois. <(“)

  • I absolutely love your work with the videos, dommage have not much time to tell you or comment that you are doing SUPER!!, my uncles are French and am start learning, it is so much fun when I impress them using your tips…. MERCI!
    Here some other expressions I’ve heard a thousand times:
    “petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid”
    “l’oeil du maitre engraisse le cheval”
    “quand le chat n’est pas là, les souris dansent”
    “Ils sont trop verts, dit le renard”
    “chien qui aboie ne mord pas”
    ” A cheval donné on ne regarde pas la bride”
    I learn a lot reading Jean de laFontaine , many expressions using animals came from his fables.

  • Merci, Geraldine. J’adore votre site! J’étais prof de français au lycée américain pendant 36 ans. Je suis co-organitrice d’un Meet-up au New Jersey avec une amie française. Je suis en retraite et je ne voyage pas à l’étranger. C’est bien pour moi d’apprendre ces expressions quotidiennes ou en argot. J’attends avec impatience votre nouvelle leçon. Je vous remercie de mettre vos leçons en ligne.
    Phyllis Rehm

    Phyllis Rehm

  • I like this video 😉
    In polish language, we have expressions: “manger comme un cochon” , “rusé comme un renard” and “fier comme un paon” – the same animals and the same meanings! I’ll remember these three expressions for sure 🙂

  • Salut ! C’était très drôle entendre ces expressions. En anglais “Les jours de chien” – “dog days” – signifie le temps très chaud, bien que ce n’est pas entendu souvent maintenant. C’est intéressant qu’en français c’est l’inverse.

    J’ai une question. Est-il très impoli à dire “Pleuvoir comme une vache qui pisse” ? Puis-je dire ça aux mes voisins âgés, ou non ? Mais c’est plus approprié que “pleuvoir des chats et des chiens”, je pense ! En galloise j’entends qu’on dit “pleuvoir des vieilles femmes et des batons” !

    Bonne soirée tout le monde

    • Je sais que l’expression suivante n’a rien à voir avec des animaux, mais j’ai entendu une expression équivalente à “Il pleut comme une vache qui pisse”: “Il pleut des cordes.”

    • Suite au sujet des chiens, il y a une expression anglaise “A three dog night” qui signifie que la nuit est trop froid pour dormir avec seulement deux chiens.

  • i like etre doux come un agneau.It sounds so sweet.I would like to add,chercher des pous dans l tète.I do like also: quand le chat n’est pas là,les souris dansent…

  • Merci, ce sont tous amusants ! Je viens de trouver celui-là qui me plaît beaucoup: ça ne vaut pas un pet du lapin.

    • Génial ! Careful, it’s “ça ne vaut pas un pet DE lapin”. = it’s doesn’t even count as much as a rabbit’s fart (= it’s worth nothing)

  • Merci pour reprendre vos excellentes communiqués hebdomadaires.
    Je voudrais ajouter “avoir un cheval de bataille”.
    Le mien est de plantes hôtes pour les papillons et d’autres insectes.

  • When we were young our french teacher used to call us “petit chou” (?) which we found means little cabbage? we weren’t sure if this was a good or bad thing 🙂

    • My French teacher called us that too! Many years later, I said it to a platonic French guy friend – oh dear – BIG mistake! I think I frightened him but he should have known my French was basic schoolgirl stuff. I think he has avoided me ever since 🙁

  • Is there a french equivalent of “Flying pigs” or “When pigs will fly”?

    I was very upset by my French teacher at school saying I spoke french like a spanish cow – I wish I knew then that the original quote was “Basque Espagnol” I would have corrected him…. 😎

  • My favourite expression is ‘Parler le français comme une vache espagnole’, which means to speak French very badly.

    • Oh that is so funny! Does that mean like a cow from Spain?- I’m afraid that term applies to my french skills

      • I am Dutch and I once tried to joke in French and said: “Je parle français comme une vache hollandaise !” The woman apparently did not understand my joke because she immediately corrected me, and said “comme une vache espagnol !” Trying to joke in a foreign language is very difficult!

  • Bonjour Géraldine
    and yes, this is a very interesting subject but you could end up feeling just a bit sorry for the animals 🙂
    Nevertheless I especially like “avoir un QI d’huitre” .. I’m laughing as I write this because it’s SO descriptive .. very French I think !
    I used to visit Cancale occasionally in Brittany where they are very proud of their oyster farms, and where les fruits de mer is, of course, a speciality of the region ……. although I must say that I never heard anyone mention “un QI d’huitre” .. bad for business, no doubt.
    And so, on the subject of animals playing a part in the language, that famous song Boum by Charles Trenet comes to mind .. yes, the one where he sings quand notre coeur fait boum and makes all sorts of clic clic clic clac clac clac noises to represent les animaux .. don’t you just love that song. Actually I think you can find it in that wonderful film Amélie .. also recommended.
    Many thanks again Géraldine .. your weekly French language posts are a lot of fun, and a brilliant guide. Bonne journée tout le monde.

  • Bonjour Geraldine,

    Can we also say c’est un canard! meaning cold weather or did I just misheard the expressions c’est un froid de canard?
    Merci beaucoup pour ce sujet!

  • I am amused by ” nids de poules ” meaning pot holes. The first time I saw this was a road sign saying ” nids de poules en formation ” !

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