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Des dictons / Some proverbs and sayings


  • Chien qui va à la chasse perd sa place.  
The dog that goes hunting loses its place. (If you leave, you lose your place.)
  • Il faut manger les grillots avec le tactac. 
You have to eat the unpopped kernels with the popcorn. (You have to take the good with the bad.)
  • Chacun prêche pour son saint.
Everyone preaches for his own saint. (We all have partisan opinions and tastes.)
  • La poule qui chante est celle qui a pondu.
The hen that sings is the one who laid.  (The one who makes the biggest fuss is usually the guilty party.)
  • Jamais deux sans trois.
Never two without three.  (Big events, usually catastrophes, happen in sets of three.)
  • La beauté apporte pas à dîner.
Beauty doesn't bring home lunch. Beauty doesn't put food on the table.  (When choosing a spouse, look at the prospective partner's practical skills.)
  • Prends mari, prends pays.
Take a husband, take his country. (We marry into families and cultures when we marry a spouse.)
  • Petit enfant, petite misère; grand enfant, grande misère.
Small children bring small problems; big children make big problems.  (As a child ages, the nature of his problems becomes more serious.)  
  • Cheval donné, on doit pas regarder la bride.
When a horse is given as a gift, you must not look at its bridle. (Equivalent of  "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.")
  • Chaque chien hale sa couenne.
Every dog has to carry its own hide.  (We all have trials.  We must all make our own way in life.)
  • Chaque chien a son jour/sa chance.
Every dog has its day.  Every dog has its chance.
  • Le cheval reste dans l'écurie, le mulet dans la savane.
The horse lives in the stable, the mule in the pasture. (We should all know our place.)
  • Couper les oreilles au mulet en fait pas un cheval.
Cutting a mule's ears doesn't make it into a horse.
  • Si on peut pas monter cheval, on monte mulet.
If you can't ride a horse, ride a mule. (Make do with what you've got.)
  • Si on peut pas téter maman, il faut téter memère.
If you can't suckle Mama, you have have to suckle Grandma. (Make do with what you've got.)
  • Où il y a des os, il y a des chiens.
Where there are bones, there are dogs.
  • Le donneur de conseils est pas le payeur.
The giver of advice is not the one who pays (the consequences).
  • Chaque chien gratte pour son os.
Every dog scratches for its bone.
  • Chaque hibou aime son bébé.
Every owl loves its baby.
  • Tout macaque trouve son petit joli.
Every monkey thinks its baby is beautiful.
  • Crache en l'air, ça te tombe sur le bout du nez.
Spit up in the air, and it falls on the end of your nose.  (When you criticize or act negatively, it can come back to hurt you.)
  • Dos brillant, ventre criant.
Brightly colored back, screaming stomach.  (Some people spend all their money on clothes and find themselves without enough to eat.)
  • Pèse bouton, paie couillon.
Press the button and pay, fool.  (High technology can be more trouble than it's worth.  Don't be seduced by fancy gadgets.)
  • Le prêtre dit pas sa messe deux fois.
The priest does not say his Mass two times. (I will not repeat what I just said.  You hear me the first time.)
  • Le Bon Dieu descend pas pour fouetter / bûcher.
The Good Lord does not come down to beat.  (Punishment/justice does not always come directly or immediately.)
  • Mets pas ton doigt entre l’arbre et l’écorce.
Don't put your finger between the tree and the bark.  (Don't get mixed up in other people's domestic disputes.)
  • En parlant du diable, on voit sa queue.
When you speak of the devil, you see his tail. (Said when the person one is speaking of appears on the scene.)
  • En parlant des anges, on voit leurs ailes.
When you speak of angels, you see their wings. (Said when the person one is speaking of appears on the scene.)
  • Quand on parle de la bête, on voit sa tête.
When you speak of the beast, you see its head. (Said when the person one is speaking of appears on the scene.)
  • Jeu de chien tourne en bataille.
Dogs' game turns into a fight. (Often said in warning to children.  Play tussling often becomes serious.)
  • Jeu de chien, jeu de vilain.
Dogs' game turns into an ugly game. (Often said in warning to children.  Play tussling often becomes serious.)
  • Cinq sous commencent la piastre. / Cinq-sous commence la piastre.
It's takes a nickel to start the dollar.  (Every big project begins with a first small step.)
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