Mise à pied: French expressions using ‘pied’ you may hear

The Grenoble football coach has been ‘put on foot’. We explain what it means and look at four other expressions with the word pied

15 December 2021

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

The Grenoble football team’s coach has been ‘put on foot’, it was announced yesterday (Wednesday 14), meaning the club has asked him to leave / fired him.

Maurozio Jacobacci’s dismissal follows the team’s recent poor performance. The GF38 club said that the decision has been taken as an ‘interim measure’ with the management of the team temporarily entrusted to the assistant coach Frédéric Gueguen.

We look at five French expressions with the word pied.

Mise à pied (literally ‘to put on foot’):

This means to dismiss somebody from their job (permanently or temporarily).

The expression is said to have its origins in the 15th century, when soldiers would travel on horseback. When they were fired, they would need to dismount the horse and travel on foot.

C’est le pied (literally ‘it’s the foot’):

This expression is used to express that something is good or great.

It derives from the 18th-century expression prendre son pied, which at the time referred to pirates taking their share of looted treasure. It is said that they would measure portions with their feet.

Now, c’est le pied refers to anything that causes pleasure or enjoyment.

Faire le pied de grue (literally ‘to do the crane foot’):

This expression means to wait while standing.

It is said to date to the 17th century, when prostitutes would often wait from clients while leaning against a wall, with one leg on the floor and one leg up, like a crane.

Au pied de la lettre (literally ‘at the foot of the letter’):

This expression means ‘literally’ or ‘word for word’.

It alludes to the Bible, where a letter sent to the Corinthians is opposed in what it says and what it means.

Pied, as in English, also has the meaning of ‘measure’ so to read something as it is measured would be to read exactly how it is written.

Avoir le pied marin (literally ‘to have a marine foot’):

This expression is said to date back to the 17th century and is used to describe someone who is able to easily keep their balance on a boat.

Feet are what keep us balanced on the ground, therefore to have a ‘marine foot’ means to be able to keep oneself stable on a boat, which often moves and sways.

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