French Sayings English Sayings All And The Same

French Good Morning by Irina. ImnFrench sayings called (dit-on) in French are as often used as they are in English, and for this post I decided to dig a few of such French sayings that have their equivalent in English.

Some of them are basically word for word, and some have the same meaning while saying something different.  So, without further ado, let see what they are in French as well as their meaning. Down below in my video I pronounced them for you.

French Sayings 

A word once spoken is past recalling / Il faut tourner sa langue sept fois dans sa bouche avant de parler (we need to turn our tongue 7 times in our mouth before we speak)

Meaning: Better think before speaking


It’s raining cats and dogs /Il tombe des trombes d’eau (it’s falling hard water)

Meaning: Heavy rain.


Barking dogs seldom bite / Chien qui aboie ne mord pas (Dog that barks doesn’t bite)

Meaning: People who may yell are not the meanest.


All cats are grey in the dark / La nuit, tous les chats sont gris (at night all cats are grey)

Meaning: All things look alike in darkness.


Bad news travel fast / Les nouvelles vont vite (news travel fast)

Meaning: People are gossipers.


Boys will be boys Il faut que jeunesse se passe (youth must come and go)

Meaning: Young people do things that they will eventually grow out of.


As you make your bed, so you must lie in it / Comme on fait son lit, on se couche (Same exact translation)

Meaning: As you do things so you will pay the consequences of it.


An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth / Œil pour œil, dent pour dent (same in French)

Meaning: What you take will be taken from you.


Love is blind / L’amour est aveugle (Same thing in French)

Meaning: Love prevents you to see defects.


Give credit where credit is due / Il faut rendre à César ce qui est à César et à Dieu ce qui est à Dieu (we need to give to Cesar what belongs to Cesar and God what belongs to God)

Meaning: To each one is due.


Better be safe than sorry / Prudence est mère de sûreté (caution is the mother of safety)

Meaning: It’s always a good thing to be safe and secure.


A good deed is never lost / Une bonne action n’est jamais perdue (same in French)

Meaning: What good you do will be rewarded.


Clothes do not make the man / L’habit ne fait pas le moine (clothing does not make the monk)

Meaning: People aren’t always what they seem to be.


A friend in need is a friend indeed / C’est dans le besoin qu’on reconnaît ses amis  Or Amitié dans la peine, amitié certaine  (It’s in need that we recognize our friends) or (Friendship in hardship is true friendship)

Meaning: A true friend is here in bad times as well as good times.


He who laughs last laughs best / Rira bien qui rira le dernier (same in French)

Meaning: Never make fun or fun will be made of you.


A debt paid is a friend kept / Les bons comptes font les bons amis (Paid “goo” accounting makes good friends).

Meaning: Money owned can break friendships.


It is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back / C’est la goutte d’eau qui fait déborder le vase (it’s the last drop that makes the vase overflow).

Meaning: When someone has got as much as he or she can take, the last little thing will make them explode.


A rolling stone gathers no moss / Pierre qui roule n’amasse pas mousse (A rolling stone don’t gather moss).

Meaning:  Nothing good comes from rushing things.


Lost time is never found again/Le temps perdu ne se rattrappe jamais (same in French)

This was speak for itself.


A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush / Un  tiens  vaut mieux que deux  tu l’auras  / Il vaut mieux tenir que courir (one have is better than two you’ll have) or (it’s better to stand than to run).

Meaning: One thing already own is better two maybe’s.

Pronounce those French sayings with me on the video and have fun!!!

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24 thoughts on “French Sayings English Sayings All And The Same”

  1. Wow Sylviane

    I love love love your articles on your beloved country. It pulls me right in. I feel like I am there. Oh my I enjoyed your video and I found myself trying to pronounce those lovely French words.
    When your write on your country, I feel I am being drawn in. I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to visit France, but this is wonderful for anyone that has a desire to learn about other cultures.
    Thank you
    Gladys posted…Time is a precious tool…use it wisely

    Keep writing on France. I thoroughly enjoyed this.
    Thank you
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    1. Hi Gladys,

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying this blog. All my 3 blogs are my babies, you know, but this one is my little sweet one, where I share my roots.

      The video is not great, but I didn’t have time to do an elaborated one, so I thought that it would do for now 🙂

      Have a great week end!
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  2. That was pretty cool Sylviane.

    A very long time ago I use to date a guy that was from South Africa. He use to tell us about times he would go to the store to buy things and ask for what he wanted only for it to mean something totally different here in the US. He use to crack us up with his stories so I can’t even imagine saying certain phrases that mean one thing for us but they really mean something totally different in another language.

    That was fun, thanks for sharing these.

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    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Sure every word for word translation is more times than not a big mistake and sometimes kinda of dangerous.

      It’s like in English you can say “I’m excited” , but in French it has a sexual meaning. So beware with languages that way!

      1. I remember writing something one day Sylviane and I had several people respond in the comment section that one of the words I had said meant something really nasty in their country. I told them that I live in the US and this is a US based blog so there is no way I would have known that the way they’re reading this would would have a different meaning although the topic was blogging. After about six responses I finally just changed the darn word. We aren’t in your country so I would think that all the content they read online they would know what our words mean. Right?
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        1. Well, Adrienne, you were nice enough to change that word, I don’t think I would have because THEY were the ones with the problem. NOT you.

          The English word “pet” means “fart” in french, it used to make my mom laugh so hard when she used to see that word on store doors and signs. But does that mean that I have to think French when I read of write in English? Of course not 🙂

          People are just so dumb sometimes. Grrrrr.
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          1. I almost didn’t change it Sylviane but they were getting really upset about it and I was just more and more frustrated. I don’t even remember what it was now but dang…

            Get over it… What I write about has nothing to do with the meaning our words mean to you! Jeez…
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  3. Hi Sylviane,
    I know you don’t know this, but I took 9 years of French from grammar school to college. Can’t speak a lick of it anymore, although I can still read it a bit! I love the language and I had a great teacher who taught us the culture as well as the language. I will never forget her. Her name was Ms. Proverb (how ironic huh?! 🙂 Anyway I love the article. I so enjoyed learning all things French and always said I wanted to go there. This brings back memories of my learning as well as educate us to some very interesting differences in language and how some things can mean different things. Loved it.
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    1. Hi Barbara,

      No, I didn’t know that you’ve studied French for 9 years, but I know how it can all go away when you stop practicing a language that you’ve learned in school. I’ve studied Korean for 2 years, and while I can still read it and say a few sentences everything else is gone!

      Ah Ms. Proverb for a language teacher is so appropriate 🙂

      I’m glad I brought back some memories for you.

  4. Hi Sylviane

    My knowledge of your language has become very rusty over the years. Great to hear you speaking it. As you know I love listening to the French language.

    It is so interesting how each country has it’s own saying. I think it makes it very difficult for people learning a language, especially if you learn it formally then need to figure out all these type of sayings. People who come to Australia find our slang very difficult.

    Thanks for a a great share and loved listening to you.

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    1. Hi Sue,

      I thought you guys would have fun with my little video.

      Yes, I think that Australian slang is not easy to understand, even words are different like “bush” you guys say “going to the bush”. That sounds so funny here in the US.

      Oh, and I’m reading this book from Kelvin Cruichkshank form New Zealand and he writes “mum” as I remember you telling me you say (write) in Australia.

      This goes to show you that even in the same language words and word meanings are twisted. But that’s what makes it so interesting to me.

  5. This is another wonderful trivia about the French language. I really love how you dedicate this site to your mother country.

  6. Love Love Love This post Sylviane!

    As I was reading through, I thought to myself “gee I wish I could hear how to pronounce these sayings” At the end..I was so happy you had the recorded audio!

    Look at me..learning French!

    Thanks so much. I had so much fun with this. I love to find out different sayings from different cultures. Today I learned a lot.

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  7. Hi Sylviane, I missed all your awesome French lessons the past few weeks that I’ve been buried under my desk! This one caught my eye because I love to hear the differences in language from one culture to another. Sometimes the phrases are the same but sometimes they mean such different things that it makes me wonder why they were invented in the first place!

    For example, it’s raining cats and dogs. That sounds ridiculous in English and I have no idea where it came from. In French the meaning is the same but the words are different – hard rain. Which makes more sense of course! But it’s fun to see.

    My favorite one is the straw that broke the camels back/water that made the vase overflow. It also makes you wonder… why a camel? And why a vase, not a cup? lol… this was a fun lesson. And it was fun to hear you speak them out loud.
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    1. Well, lady it’s sure is nice to see you. I really missed you 🙁 and I hope you’ll get out from under that desk soon.

      I was at you blog yesterday, and I was even surprised that you posted there, then I’ve noticed that I’ve missed quite a few posts because you’ve been invisible 🙂

      Yes, those sayings are fun. Like you I’ve never understood raining cats and dogs. Sounds kinda stupid if you ask me. But the most intriguing part of all is that most of those sayings are both known in the English and French languages and pretty much the same.

      Thanks for coming and hope to see you again soon, Carol.

  8. Sylviane,
    I love your accent. I was giggling at some of the translations. It was fun trying to say the words with you. French is such a beautiful language. Thus one of the Romance Languages, it deserves that title. It doesn’t matter what is being said, it all sounds so beautiful. Did you ever see the movie “A Fish Called Wanda”? There’s a part in there where Kevin Kline’s character was speaking French to Jamie Lee Curtis’ character and she was dropping to her knees. Cracked me right up. Thanks for sharing and putting a smile on my face.
    Warmest regards,
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    1. Hi Lisa,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this.

      I’ve seen that movie a long time ago and don’t remember about that French part.

      Those Americans are just crazy with this French thing. French doesn’t do a thing to me except that it’s my mother tongue and it’s my memory, but it would never make me drop on my knees. LOL!

      Thanks for your feedback 🙂

  9. Lovely French sayings that are similar to English. Are these sayings used frequently in France as I know some of their English equivalent is popular in India too. Its amazing how these saying s have developed and how the meanings can apply to anywhere in the world.
    Thanks for these interesting sayings.
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  10. Awesome Sylviane,
    I saw a few which I didn’t know and i loved the pronunciation video at the end.
    I am always fascinated by the jargon of every language because they tell so much about a countries history and culture. have you ever noticed that in English there is no equivalent to Bon Appétit. The lack of this in the English saying tells a lot.
    Anyways, more posts like this.
    I think you should do one about how to properly faire la bise. 🙂
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    1. Hi Annie,

      Yes, I’ve been aware for a while now that a language is just the spoken expression of its culture. Yes, I’ve noticed that the English language doesn’t have an exact equivalent for “bon appétit” because food is just not important enough for the country where English comes from, which is of course, England. The food is so bad there LOL!

      In France food it’s part of the very identity of the country. It’s definitely part of the culture. I miss French food the most 🙂

      Thanks for you visit and tip for a new post. I certainly will 🙂
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