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Courir sur le haricot and more French sport expressions

Getting back into sport is the top New Year’s resolution for many as a survey in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region confirms. We look at three expressions related to sport

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

Practising more sports is the most popular New Year’s resolution in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region for 2022.

Around 40% of people said it was their main goal in a survey commissioned by the French Federation of Physical Education and Voluntary Gymnastics and carried out by marketing research firm Ipsos.

The second most common resolution is to eat a balanced diet, with 27% of the votes and the third is ‘to reserve real moments of relaxation’, with 23% of the votes.

The study also revealed that 68% of the region’s inhabitants feel that their lifestyle is now more sedentary than before the Coronavirus pandemic.

We look at three French expressions related to sport:

Courir sur le haricot (literally ‘to run on the green bean’):

This expression means to get on someone’s nerves.

In the 16th century, courir already meant ‘to bother’. In the 19th century, the verb haricoter came to designate someone who was involved with petty business or haggled over small matters and haricot was a slang term for the toe.

If somebody runs over your toe, you are bound to be annoyed.

Prendre ses jambes à son cou (literally ‘to take the legs by their neck’):

This expression means to run away or leave in a hurry.

At the end of the 17th century, it was said to prendre les jambes à son col (‘to take the legs by the collar’). As people would often use over-the-shoulder bags for travelling, the term meant ‘to pack up’.

Over time, ‘col’ became ‘cou’ and the expression shifted slightly in meaning to suggest a hurried escape.

Another theory is that the term comes from the game of skittles (jeu de quilles), where the word quilles was also used synonymously to legs (jambes). At the end of the game, someone would pack the ‘legs’ into a bag and sling it over their shoulder, and the expression came to mean ‘to leave’.

Il va y avoir du sport (literally ‘there will be sport’):

This expression means that a stand-off or confrontation is due.

It likely originated from football commentators in the 20th century, who would use the phrase to express excitement that a match is looking to be filled with plenty of action and suspense.

Nowadays, the expression is also used outside of the field of sport to present the idea that there will be a confrontation.

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