11 French expressions using the word mouth

Bouche à oreille

Ça t’en bouche un coin! You might hear this when someone opens a letter... but what has it got to do with your mouth? Here we have a look at 11 expressions in French that use the word mouth (bouche).

1/ N’avoir que ça à la bouche

Literally 'to have only this in the mouth'. It means you always repeat the same thing.

2/ Faire la fine bouche

To do the thin mouth literally. Originally, the expression was faire la petite bouche (to do the small mouth) and meant to be picky with food. It evolved in fine bouche and generally means to be picky.

3/ Bouche bée

Literally 'with your mouth gaping open'. It means you are speechless.

4/ Avoir l’eau à la bouche

Literally 'to have water in the mouth'. This means you are so eager for something that you have saliva coming out of your mouth – a literal example would be if a waiter is describing to you a delicious item on a menu. It could be extended, for example, to the effect on you when a friend describes a wonderful holiday they had – it might make you ‘salivate’ with the idea of going to the place yourself.

5/ Bouche à oreille

'Mouth to ear'. It refers to information spread from one person to another person. The English equivalent is word of mouth.

6/ Bouche à bouche

This is the same as the English mouth-to-mouth (resuscitation).

7/ Embrasser à pleine bouche

Literally to kiss with full mouth. This is another way to say French kiss – which is actually not used in French.

8/ Enlever les mots de la bouche

To take the words from your mouth – as in English this means someone has just said what you were thinking about. In this case you would say ‘tu m’enlèves les mots de la bouche’.

9/ Mettre les bouchées doubles

Literally to give double mouthfuls. It means to work twice as hard. The image is that if you need to eat a lot of food – as in food-eating competitions – you need to take especially large mouthfuls.

10/ La vérité sort de la bouche des enfants

This literally means truth comes out the mouth of children. Out of the mouths of babes is the equivalent in English.

11/ En boucher un coin

Literally to plug a corner. This means to leave someone speechless. The ‘coin’ actually refers to the mouth and one of its angles when open. If it is full you cannot speak and this is what happens when you are shocked.

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