“In the car Simone”, “it does not eat bread”…: the origins of 5 French expressions


The French language is full of more or less eccentric expressions… The word “expression” is not quite suitable here. The exact term to describe these turns of phrase would be “idiomatic expression” or “idiotism”. These are sentences or portions of sentences that can only be used in certain situations, predefined by a code common to all users of a language.

Idioms are, in fact, very rarely really known by the whole of a linguistic population. Some are obsolete, and remain very little used by a group of people of a certain age. Conversely, some idiomatic expressions are known only to younger people. In addition to the age factor, other contextual elements can lead to the development of linguistic codes that remain confined to certain groups.

The geographical location of a population, in particular, will influence certain language codes. Language is a code, but language is also a marker of identity, a way of defining oneself by using one expression rather than another. This is why the study of the evolution of language is very important. Analyzing and decoding the origin of certain expressions can tell a lot about a certain group of people, their history or their relationship to others.

Moreover, it seems necessary to pay equal attention to all the linguistic niches present within the enormous diversity of groups and cultures that are found under the umbrella of the Francophonie. The contemporary reality is that there are a multitude of different “French” today, and that any attempt at unification, or purification under a single “classic” French seems not only a waste of time, but also very counterproductive. It is a wealth to be the subject of such extensive diversification.

Find above the origin of the meaning of 5 widely used French expressions, according to the pouquoises.