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Secrets to sounding like a native: demystifying French expressions – Part 5

Coralie L'Enfant, 8/10/12

This article is in English. Click here to read it in French.

So you don’t really understand classic French expressions? Not to worry, My French Life are here to dissect and help you understand the expressions anchored in the language of Molière.

Have fun discovering just how beautiful the French language is to speak and listen to. Get to know the richness of French vocabulary with its food-inspired expressions. You’ll be surprised to find that we don’t only find them in La Fontaine fables. Master these anecdotal sayings, their meanings and their origins so you can impress all your friends with your wisdom at dinner parties.

Tomber dans les pommes (literally ‘to fall in the apples’)

The expression ‘tomber dans les pommes’ first appeared around 1889. Its origin remains uncertain. It probably comes from the phrase ‘to be in baked apples’, used by the writer George Sand in his correspondence with Mrs Dupin, meaning to be in a state of extreme fatigue¹.

Thus, this idiomatic phrase would have been used as a more contemporary phrasing to express losing consciousness or fainting. In addition, at the time, baked apples were used at the theatre to make fun of bad actors, hence its common notoriety.

Equivalent English expression: ‘To pass out’.

Translation by Emily Arbuckle.
References :
1. Georges Sand, Ministère de la Culture.
Illustration by Coralie L’Enfant



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