Un cheveu sur la langue

Here you go with another colourful French expression to end the week on a humorous note. ‘Avoir un cheveu sur la langue’, literally a hair on one’s tongue, is a way of saying that someone has a speech impediment, specifically a lisp.

I’m not sure there is any ‘nice’ way of saying this but the expression creates an image that is immediately understood. If you have a hair on your tongue, it is understandably hard to articulate certain sounds. The proper term for a lisp, which I have just learned, is ‘zozoter’.

By the way, my French bulldog Humphrey shown above does not lisp but he certainly has a healthy tongue with a lot of hair around it. C’est une image!

There are quite a few French expressions involving the word ‘langue’ or tongue. ‘Ne pas avoir sa langue dans sa poche’ is one of my favourites. I’m not known for keeping my tongue in my pocket either.

Well, it’s Friday so I’m going to keep this short and suite. 😜 Feel free to share your favourite colourful expressions in French or any other language!

19 thoughts on “Un cheveu sur la langue

  1. My favorite is avoir une poil dans sa main–have a hair in your hand. It means being lazy.
    Speaking of hair on the tongue, I read a fascinating article (long ago) in the New York Times about a guy who thinks a hypnotist can’t fool him into quitting smoking. He and the hypnotist chat about a number of things, including eating a plate of human hair. He leaves, thinking, what a ripoff, I still want to smoke. But when he tries to smoke, he feels as if he’s choking on hair. I found the article (smoking + hypnosis + hair + choke and it came up right away): https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/magazine/i-was-too-clever-to-quit-smoking.html

  2. My favorite is avoir une poil dans sa main–have a hair in your hand. It means being lazy.
    Speaking of hair on the tongue, I read a fascinating article (long ago) in the New York Times about a guy who thinks a hypnotist can’t fool him into quitting smoking. He and the hypnotist chat about a number of things, including eating a plate of human hair. He leaves, thinking, what a ripoff, I still want to smoke. But when he tries to smoke, he feels as if he’s choking on hair. I found the article (smoking + hypnosis + hair + choke and it came up right away): https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/magazine/i-was-too-clever-to-quit-smoking.html

    1. Thanks for reminding me of that one, and for the share which I will read later! My belle-mère used to say that a lot, and I must admit it never made any sense to me. A person so lazy that a hair grows out of their palm? 🧐

      1. The idea is that the hand is so seldom used that hair has had time to grow in the palm . Try it if you can and you’ll see, but you need to have slaves as I had in the good ole time with my two hairy hands .

  3. A synonym of your expression is “avoir la langue bien pendue” . Here are others :

    “Donner sa langue au chat”, what kids say when they can’t guess or find the answer .
    “Tourner sept fois sa langue dans sa bouche”, take a careful time to think before speaking .
    “Je l’ai sur le bout de la langue”, what we say when we can’t happen to remember a word but we know it is very close to appear .
    “Savoir tenir sa langue”, being able to keep a secret .
    “Avoir avalé sa langue” is said about people who stay silent for too long .
    “Retrouver sa langue”, when someone happens to speak again after a long period of unwilling silence .
    “Les mauvaises langues”, people who like very much speaking badly of others .
    And the most common, “tirer la langue” which is said when during a hard and long effort people become exhausted, or also to mean the task is nearly too difficult for the person .

  4. Several of these are completely new to me…and others I’ve heard before but not used are much clearer. Thanks as ever for enlightening us poor anglos! 😇

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