15 French idioms using animals

It is interesting that speakers of many languages seem to use expressions involving animals, the French being no exception. Here are 15 examples of popular French idioms featuring our furry friends:

1) Arriver comme un chien dans un jeu de quilles – To turn up when least needed. (Literally: To turn up like a dog in a game of skittles).

2) Bon chien chasse de race – Like father, like son. (Literally: A good dog hunts good stock).

3) À bon chat bon rat – Tit for tat. (Literally: A good rat for a good cat).

4) Avoir un chat dans la gorge – To have a frog in one’s throat. (Literally: To have a cat in one’s throat).

5) J’ai d’autres chats à fouetter – I’ve other fish to fry. (Literally: I have other cats to flog).

6) Poser un lapin à quelqu’un – To stand somebody up. (Literally: To do a rabbit on someone).

7) C’est changer un cheval borgne pour un aveugle – It’s jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. (Literally: It’s exchanging a one-eyed horse for a blind one).

8) Les loups ne se dévorent pas entre eux – There is honour among thieves. (Literally: Wolves do not eat each other).

9) Quand on parle du loup (on en voit la queue) – Speak of the devil (and he appears). (Literally: When you speak of the wolf, you see its tail).

10) Je voudrais bien être une petite souris – I’d love to be a fly on the wall. (Literally: I’d love to be a tiny mouse).

11) Comme un éléphant dans un magasin de porcelaine – Like a bull in a china shop. (Literally: Like an elephant in a china shop).

12) Revenons à nos moutons – Let’s get back to the subject. (Literally: Let’s get back to our sheep).

13) Sauter du coq à l’âne – To jump from one subject to another. (Literally: To jump from the cock to the donkey).

14) Quelle mouche t’a piqué? – What’s got into you? (Literally: What fly has bitten you?)

15) C’est le serpent qui se mord la queue – It’s a vicious circle. (Literally: It’s the snake who bites its own tail).


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