: elbow grease
Did you know: the French use more than their elbows to work up a good idiom... they use their wrists and arms, too! Synonyms to "huile de coude" include "huile de bras" (arm oil) and "huile de poignet" (wrist oil).
* * *
:: Audio File :: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and definition:
Download huile_de_coude.mp3 . Download huile_de_coude.wav
Huile de coude (a.k.a. "huile de bras"): vigueur physique, volonté de bien faire, qui remplace avantageusement l'huile pour graisser les ressorts de notre machine. / Elbow grease (a.k.a. "arm oil): physical vigor, the will to do well, which has the advantage of replacing oil for greasing up the mainsprings of our machine. --definition from the "Dictionnaire de la langue verte" by Alfred Delvau
New, in books: "Pardon My French: Unleash Your Inner Gaul."
Did you know that "faire un canard," literally means "to do a duck" ... but also refers to dunking sugar lumps in coffee and is the preferred way to get a kick of sugar caffeine in France?... And that "tablette de chocolat" literally means "chocolate bar" but is also the term for a finely muscled male stomach in
France. Check out Charles Timoney's book, here.
Choses-A-Faire and Things-To-Do are two most unwelcome weekend guests, especially on Sunday, a supposed day of rest. I set down the coffee pot and handed my cup to Jean-Marc, who appeared to be in the same nervy predicament as I: tired and on edge. Over-commitment and clutter once again conspired to steal the present moment.
After exchanging a few preliminary snips, snaps, and TAKE THAT'S!, it dawned on me that we had some powerful energy for hire and why waste it in the kitchen when we had two flower beds that needed weeding? Rather than picking on each other, we might pick on dandelions, foxtails, and crabby crabgrass instead!
In the minutes that followed, we exchanged our boxing gloves for garden gants,* put down our pride, picked up pioches,* and set aside just enough righteousness in time to wield a rake.
We said our apologies indirectly, of course...
Me: (backing into Jean-Marc with my wheelbarrow...) Oh... Sorry!
Jean-Marc: Désolé, chérie* (after launching an eyes-wide-with-terror escargot* into the air--missing me by a snail's breath!--only to be reminded that we don't sling snails, we SET them down somewhere else).
By the end of the morning the hippy happy rose hips* were heureuse* and the waist-high weeds were woebegone. "Take that!" I said, pitching another bunch of the mauvaises-herbes* into the wheelbarrow. In their place, sweet-scented flowers now stretched out their once-bundled branches. Ahhhh...
As for our own bundled branches of nerves, good old fashioned elbow grease* did the trick once again.
choses à faire = things to do; le gant (m) = glove; une pioche (f) = pick, pickax(e); désolé chérie = sorry, dear; un escargot (m) =snail; rose hip (flower) = églantine (in French) a.k.a. "gratte-cul" ("
Exercises in French Phonics
Painless French: grammar, pronunciation, idioms, idiocies (culture) and more!
In French music: French Playground, a musical rendez-vous of fun French and French Creole songs that will delight children of all ages.
Lego Make & Create Café Corner
Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here
Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciée! Merci infiniment! Kristi
"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle