Lazy French idiom N°7 : Avoir la flemme

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Avoir la flemme is a very familiar French proverb which has an astonishing link to the medical sector 😯💉 !

Avoir la flemme
Avoir la flemme

This one is a bit of a jump into the world of laziness like our friend in the picture ! 😂Now what do you think is the signification of this popular French expression in English: let’s have a look at the picture :

Some animal 🍞
He is sighing

Two French words :
 “avoir” = to have
 “la flemme” = laziness

It literaly means “to have laziness” ?!?

Would you like some illustration in music ? Have a look at this clip from the French artist Suzanne, it illustrates well the meaning of this French expression ! 😀

The song by Suzanne – La flemme

Bonne écoute ! 🎧

Avoir la flemme : origin

avoir la flemme origin
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

This French expression : avoir la flemme dates back to the Middle Ages. At that time, doctors believed in the theory of humours, bodily fluids believed to influence the behavior of individuals.

Among them was the phlegm, named after the ancient Greek “phlegma”, which meant “mucus”. It referred to the fluid produced by the mucous membranes of the nose, which is believed to originate from the brain and mark thoughtful, cold behavior, unlike a person with blood.
By extension, if the individual had too much “phlegm” in their body, then they were considered low energy. This term was then taken up in Italian under the name “flemma”, before being Frenchized in the 18th century. Note that the word “phlegm” has the same origin.

Avoir la flemme : French definition

 Familier. Grande paresse ; envie de ne rien faire.

Familiar. Great laziness; want to do nothing
avoir la flemme French definition
Photo by Pixabay on

Avoir la flemme : French example

Here is a fine example in French of what you might say if you “avoir la flemme” ☹️

Aujourd’hui, je dois ranger ma chambre mais je n’ai vraiment pas envie, j’ai la flemme !

Today I need to tidy my bedroom but I don’t feel like it …

Avoir la flemme : Translation in English

I think a suitable translation in English for this peculiar French idiom would be :

I can’t be bothered

J’ai la flemme

Avoir la flemme : The Belgian cartoon character

Here is my favourite Belgian cartoon character which illustrates perfectly this French expression : Avoir la flemme. If he doesn’t “a la flemme”, then I don’t know who does !😂 His name is of course, the brilliant Gaston Lagaffe !

Avoir la flemme translation in English
Gaston Lagaffe a la flemme “avoir la flemme” in English

Gaston Lagaffe is extremely lazy and never wants to do anything ! Especially sorting out the mail ! He has his boss Fantasio bossing him about but to no avail ! 😅

Gaston Lagaffe : The video

Here is a video from the official site of Gaston Lagaffe ! Gaston’s dad is Frankin. It is in French, you could try adding the subtitles by clicking the settings in Youtube and also you can slow down the pace, equally in Youtube setting, click on the wheel to change the settings. Avoir la flemme : Gaston Lagaffe is the ambassador of laziness !

Avoir la flemme : Gaston Lagaffe

French GCSE idioms

How could you use this idiom in your French GCSE speaking exam ?

Theme : Local area, holiday and travel

Question : Comment vas-tu à l’école ? How do you get to school?

Possible answer : ‘ Je vais normalement à l’école en voiture ce qui n’est pas bien pour l’environnement, en vérité, j’ai la flemme de marcher. Dans le futur, il faudrait que je fasse un effort. Je pourrais aussi y aller en vélo, ce qui serait déjà beaucoup mieux pour la planète.’

Translation in English : I normally drive to school which is not good for the environment, in truth I am too lazy to walk. In the future, I would have to make an effort. I could also go there by bike, which would already be much better for the planet. ‘

Voilà, this was today’s French idiom in English, I hope you liked it. Click here to find out about the challenge of 50 French idioms in English.

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And I’ll see you tomorrow for more French idioms in English ! 👍🧡🇫🇷

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