Use These 5 French Phrases To Make People Think You’re Smart (Even Though You’re Not)
If you’ve dreamt of becoming a scholarly poseur, you’ve come to the right place.
Look, we all know you’re — how should I put this gently? — a few brain cells short of a functioning brain.
But that doesn’t mean you have to show it.
And I think the best way to convince people of your nonexistent intelligence is by learning a handful of French phrases that you should sprinkle liberally into every conversation you have, thereby making people hate you for your unjustified snobbiness.
Below are a few of the more obscure French expressions that you should memorize (if your gray matter can handle it, of course) and shove into the faces of friends, loved ones, and complete strangers, along with their meanings and examples of their usage in absolutely normal conversations, or as the French call them, tête-à-têtes.
See? You’re already jealous of my superiority.
“Ce n’est pas la mer à boire”
The literal translation of this phrase is “It’s not like you have to drink the ocean,” while the metaphorical meaning is “It’s not difficult”.
Person #1: I can’t believe I got stuck with the task of teaching a *shiver of sharks party tricks for my parents’ silver anniversary celebration next week! I’m also a hemophiliac, which means if I get a paper cut in the water, I’m nothing but a crimson mist in the drink!
Person #2: Don’t worry, buddy. Just bring some leftover band-aids and wear an extra layer of clothing. Ce n’est pas la mer à boire, you know?
*“shiver” is the name of a group of sharks — Professor Joe
“Faire la grasse matinée”
The literal translation of this phrase is “To have a fat morning” (okaaay…), while the metaphorical meaning is “To sleep in”…for some reason.
Person #1: My personal fitness trainer wants me to get in shape and to wake up at 1:29 every morning for our 7 hour workout session. Can you believe that? Just because I weigh 50 tons and look like a fleshy Panzer tank, doesn’t mean I should be subjected to such persecution!
Person #2: Meh. Even though you sweat mayonnaise and your blood type is butter, I think you look great for a human zeppelin. I say you should just fire that exercise Nazi and faire la grasse matinée.
“Se perdre les chèvres”
The literal translation of this phrase is “To lose your goats” (whatever), while the metaphorical meaning is “To forget what you were just saying, or lose your place in a conversation”. This phrase isn’t so widely used anymore, which comes as a shock to maybe only a handful of people.
Person #1: Hold on, you were just telling me a totally normal story about that time you got into a mud wrestling match with Gary Busey and I was just about to continue this completely academic conversation with a witty anecdote, but now seem to be suffering from a case of brain stupidity. My PhDs are useless, I tell you! Useless!
Person #2: Relax, Doctor! I think you just experienced a brief state of se perdre les chèvres. I’m sure you’ll remember what you were going to say when it’s least appropriate. Like a funeral. Or a double funeral.
“Devenir un chêvre”
Again with the goddam goats. The literal translation of this phrase is “to become a goat” (sigh), while the metaphorical meaning is “to be driven mad”. Goats in France, I presume, are synonymous with insanity.
Person #1: That plumber I hired to fix a leaky faucet installed a whole water treatment plant in my backyard and built a dam where my Smokey Joe used to be! He also installed a jacuzzi! I’m so mad, I could punch a busload of nuns into the sun!
Person #2: I don’t mean to play armchair psychiatrist here, but I think you’re in the early stages of devenir chêvre. Don’t let that unionized tradesman push you to the edge, my waterlogged friend!
“Ah, la vache!”
Yay. More farm animals. Fuckin’ yay. The literal translation of this phrase is “Oh, my cow!”, while the metaphorical meaning is “Oh, my God!” I’m not very worldly, but based on some of these expressions, I’m going to assume all French people live pastoral lives on hippie communes somewhere in Oregon.
Person #1: You’re never going to believe this: I just inherited two million dollars’ worth of unused mattresses with those confusing tags ripped off from my recently deceased former babysitter! I’ll never be able to sell them legally, but ILLEGALLY, I’ll be a millionaire in no time! Kiss my ass, Mancini’s!
Person #2: Ah, la vache! You’ll be the most rested criminal this side of the Mississippi! Can I have your autograph and fingerprints?!
Keep in mind that I know virtually nothing about French culture outside of what I googled for this article and watching old Pepé Le Pew cartoons, so if any of you francophiles out there are offended by this post…then c’est la vie, I guess.
Anyway, now that you’re polyglot poseur, go out there and get that raise, win the heart of your crush, and live the life of an annoying parvenu.
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