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French is a beautiful and expressive language and, if you really want to gain fluency in French, you need to learn more than just common travel words and phrases.
If you really want to get to know the French people and French culture, you need to be able to communicate with French speakers. In order to do so, you need to be able to speak like a native and that means that you need to learn French idioms.
French idioms are basically French phrases that native speakers use regularly in conversation to express certain thoughts and feelings.
French language learners may find idioms a difficult concept to grasp as first because idioms have meanings that go beyond what the phrase translates as. So, what you think you hear a French person saying might be completely different from what a French person is actually saying.
Confused? Well, take a look at the list of French idioms about health that we have compiled below. The translation of these French phrases might be talking about animals or refer to food, but they are actually used to talk about how you are feeling or what your physical state might be at the time.
Study these idioms and take note of what they translate as and what they actually mean. It will help you recognize them when you hear them in conversation and keep you from getting confused.
Translation: It is better to prevent than to heal
Meaning: Take care of your health
This is a wise French idiom about the value of health. When a French speaker says this, they are basically reminding you that you need to make the effort to stay healthy as easier and cheaper than recovering from a sickness.
You might also hear this French idiom tossed around if a French speaker is urging you to take precautions or to plan an activity well. The idea is that it’s better to be prepared for accidents or mishaps ahead of time to minimize the damage.
Translation: To have the peach
Meaning: To feel great
If you are looking for French idioms about health because you want to say you feel great or are is good health, you can use this cute expression.
Translation: to have le banana
Meaning: To feel good
If you don’t want to refer to yourself as a “peach” you can also refer to yourself as a “banana” and used this phrase.
Translation: Not be on one’s own plate
Meaning: Feeling sick or not yourself
If you are not “avior la pêche/banana” and you’re actually feeling a little sick or out of sorts, you can use this French idiom. It’s similar to the English idiom “under the weather”.
Translation: To have the cockroach
Meaning: To feel depressed
As we said, idioms often sound funny when translated and this is one of those funny-sounding French idioms about health. This is basically a way to say that you are not in a good mood or are a little depressed.
Translation: Have the hunger of a wolf
Meaning: To be very hungry
You can say this to a French person if you want to ask that you take a break for lunch. You’re saying that you have worked up a healthy appetite and are very hungry.
Translation: Well in one’s skin
Meaning: To be content or at ease
This is another way to say that you are in a good mood or good health. If you are content or at ease right now, you are “bien dans sa peau”.
Translation: to have a cat in the throat
Meaning: Sore throat
This idiom refers to a common symptom of impending sickness. It refers to having a sore or scratchy throat.
The idea that you have a “cat in the throat” may sound funny, but it also makes a strange sort or sense as it does feel like something is stuck or scratching in your throat when you are not well.
Translation: To be in the fogs
Meaning: Feel weak and groggy
This is another way that a French speaker might say that they are not feeling that well or are in slightly worse shape. If you have just recovered from sickness or are coming down with something, you can use this to describe your physical and mental shape.
Translation: To have a pump stroke
Meaning: Sudden exhaustion
If you are very tired, be it due to physical activity or the impending onset of sickness, you can say this to describe what you are feeling.
Translation: To be on the kneecaps
Meaning: To be very tired
This is another French idiom that is used to say that you are exhausted or very tired. This is similar to the idea of being so tired you could “drop”. You are so tired that you might be exhibiting physical symptoms such as wobbling or painful legs.
Translation: To take back the hair of the beast
Meaning: Get better or recover
If someone has been sick but is now on the way to recovery, you can use this to describe their current state.
Translation: To have a spider on the ceiling
Meaning: Be a bit crazy
This idiom can be used to describe someone’s mental state. When a French speaker uses this to describe someone else, they are implying that they are a little bit crazy or odd.
Translation: The English have landed
Every language around the world has its own particular set of common idioms and many of those idioms will refer to a particular cultural tradition or historical event.
This French idiom about health is an example of an idiom that has its origins in French history. It can be traced to the 1815 battle of Waterloo when the British army invaded France. The British army wore red coats and their advancing onto the battlefield looked like a line of bright red.
This particular image is now associated with women’s health as this idiom is used to refer to the arrival of a woman’s monthly flow or menstrual period.
Translation: To explode with fire
This is a rather funny French idiom that refers to flatulence. So, if you hear a French-speaker say this, they are admitting that they have released gas.
Translation: To be like a charm
Meaning: To be perfectly healthy
If a French speaker wants to say that they feel great or healthy, they can also use this idiom.
Translation: To have eaten some horse
Meaning: Feeling healthy and strong
This is a French idiom about the health that is used to say that someone is feeling healthy and strong. It’s similar to an English-speaker declaring that they are “strong as a horse”.
Translation: To have eaten some lion
Meaning: Feeling strong
This is similar to the idea of “avoir mangé du cheval”, except instead of being strong like a horse, you are strong like a lion.
Translation: We must eat to live and not live to eat
Meaning: Moderation is key
This wise French idiom translates to an adage about not eating too much or in excess. But it also used to say that we should be moderate in all our habits, not just in the way we consume food or drink.
If you really want to develop your fluency, it is important that you learn more French expressions and idioms. You need to be able to recognize what a French speaker is really saying when they use an idiom in order to respond properly.
Finding lists of French idioms and their meanings and memorizing them will really benefit you. To help you out, we’ve compiled this list of French idioms about health in a downloadable PDF. You should also check out these other lists of French idioms about life and about love.
However, if you really want to learn French idioms, you need to start using them in conversations with native speakers. We highly recommend that you take this list and go through each of the idioms with an online native French-speaking tutor.
A good tutor won’t just be able to explain the meaning of different French idioms to you, they can also give you pointers on how to use them in conversation. They can also coach you on how to properly pronounce the words and improve your accent so you can be sure that you are understood.
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