8 French idioms about love

8 French idioms about love

by Audrey Sivadier

Updated November 9, 2022

Do you want to talk about love? How about using French, the language of love? Here are 8 French expressions that talk about romantic situations. We also have some useful French phrases that you could use if you get your heart broken.

Top French love idioms

1. Avoir un coup de foudre

It all starts there! Literally, it means “to have a strike of lightning”. Yes, the French don’t pull any punches, “le coup de foudre” is a very strong feeling, which paralyses you on the spot when you see your loved one for the first time.

An example of expression in use: « Quand je l’ai vue pour la première fois, je n’ai pas eu de doute sur mes sentiments, ça a été un coup de foudre instantané. » (“When I saw her for the first time, I had no doubt about my feelings, it was instant love at first sight.”)

By the way, the romantic movie “Notting Hill” is called “Coup de foudre à Notting Hill” in French.

Other French expressions with the word “coup”

2. Avoir un cœur d’artichaut

Is it “love at first sight”, or do you have an “artichoke’s heart”? Perhaps you are like this vegetable: this expression evokes the comparison between the heart of the plant (the artichoke) and the human heart. The artichoke is famous for the way it is eaten, you detach its leaves. So the person with an artichoke heart detaches the leaves from his/her heart quite easily.

 You can use this expression to refer to someone who falls easily and often in love.

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3. Être fleur bleue 

Meaning, “to be a blue flower”. Another expression with a vegetal, which means “to be sentimental”. In the language of flowers, pale blue expresses an unspoken tenderness, discreet and ideal, but also sometimes a little naive.

Blue is also a colour widely used in French expressions:

– “Un bleu” pejoratively designates a beginner (especially in the military), it is often considered naive again.

– “Avoir une peur bleue” means to feel a very great fear.

– You can also order “une viande bleue” (a “blue” meat) in a restaurant, the cooking will be short, the meat will be grilled outside and raw inside.

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4. En pincer pour quelqu’un

Literally, it means “to pinch on someone”. Yes, love can hurt, the French know it and use this expression when they are in love with someone or when they have a crush, they say: “j’en pince pour …”.

It seems that the verb “pinch” is used here in reference to the stringed musical instruments that one pinches (or plucks) to change the sounds. It is said that the vibration produced could be compared to the vibration produced by love for a person or passion for a particular thing. 

5. Avoir un ticket avec…

Love has no commercial value… except in this French expression. If you think you’ve seduced someone, you may have a ticket with that person. It means he/she likes you.

Example: “He smiled at me! Sure, I have a ticket with Bradley Cooper! ” (who speaks very good French by the way…)

6. Poser un lapin

You finally dared to ask her/him out, you suggested a restaurant or a cinema date. You are there, you wait, and wait… but he/she doesn’t come… ” Il/elle vous a posé un lapin ” (He/she stood you up.)

Literally in English: “to put a rabbit”. Nowadays , this French expression means not to go to an appointment without telling the person who is waiting for us.

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7. Se prendre un râteau

Literally: “to take a rake”. But it’s nothing to do with gardening! It is a French expression which evokes the image of the one who walks on a rake and gets hit in their face with the handle. Their ridiculous and painful character refers to what one feels when one fails to seduce.

Example:  « Il lui a demandé de sortir avec lui, mais il s’est pris un râteau… » (“He asked her out, but he got a rake…”)

8. S’envoyer en l’air

Last but not least, “S’envoyer en l’air” which literally means “to throw oneself in the air”. In slang, it refers to sexual intercourse, and above all to the pleasure metaphorically linked to a divine ascension to heaven.

Now all you have to do is use these expressions in your conversations, it will be the best way to memorise them!

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