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Come rain or shine !

Franglish idioms: we’ll be there to take you to cloud nine come rain or shine!

By Manon Variol

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative”, Oscar Wilde said. Yet, we cannot stop talking about the weather. And, contrary to what Wilde said, we get very imaginative when it comes to describing a rainy or sunny day!

If you intend to say:
“ - Dis moi, il fait un froid de canard aujourd’hui !
- Il pleut des cordes depuis des jours… Dire que c'est bientôt l'été…
- Oui, un vrai temps de chien ! Je vais rester bien au chaud toute la journée.”

Do not translate word for word or you would end up saying :
“- Well, this is a duck’s cold day !
- It has been raining cords for days…  And it is almost summer…
- Indeed, what a dog’s weather! I’ll stay under my blanket all day.

It would be better to say:
"- Well, it’s freezing cold today!
- It has been raining cats and dogs for days… And it is almost summer…
- Indeed, what a foul weather ! I’ll stay under my blanket all day.”

It's freezing cold, even for a duck !
It's freezing cold, even for a duck !

Where do these expressions come from?

  • Il fait un froid de canard”: this phrase simply means that the weather is really cold. The French refer to the duck hunting season. The ducks usually fly in in winter as the lakes freeze and cannot hide under the water. They must wait for hours in really low temperatures until a duck shows up and becomes a delicious foie gras or confit. The English simply say that “it is freezing cold” which can also be linked to an ice-covered lake.

  • It's raining cats and dogs... and cords !
    It's raining cats and dogs... and cords !
    Il pleut des cordes”: this French idiom is not terribly complicated: the line that can be seen in the sky when it rains look like cords. But the most interesting phrase is actually the English one : “it is raining cats and dogs.” The British weather is for sure often rainy, but we have never seen such a downpour! This phrase may come from the Greek “cata doxa” which means “contrary to experience or belief.” You must recognise that seeing cats and dogs falling from the sky would be unusual. It is then used to refer to an unusually heavy rain. But there is another yet far fetched explanation about this idiom. Cats and dogs used to hide during storms in thatch roofs when they were the norm. But heavy rains would pass through the piles and wash out the poor animals. It was therefore raining cats and dogs!
  • Un temps de chien”: contrary to the English “dog days”, which refer to sunny days perfect to walk your dog, “un temps de chien” means the weather is really bad and you do not want to get out. The French use the term “dog” to describe bad and excessive things : “il est d’une humeur de chien” (he is in a really bad mood), “ça fait un mal de chien” (it hurts like hell), “une vie de chien” (having a hard life)… Dogs are also French men’s best friends but these expressions come from the idea that they are miserable animals. The Brits will be nicer with pets and describe a rainy and windy day as “a foul weather.”

You can also read:

Holy cow! We let the cat out of the bag!

If you are head over heels for someone
and want to get all lovey-dovey!

Do not get your knickers in a twist!

Using these French idioms is a piece of cake

Are you ready to hit the road?


14/06/2016 - timothy.wood4 said :

For 'raining cords' try 'it's raining stair rods', although one sees fewer of these things now.


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