Smelly French idiom N°4 : Bonne merde

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Bonne merde is a very common French proverb which is remarkable considering it is about excrement 😂 ! 💩❤️

Bonne merde in English
Bonne merde image
Bonne merde audio

It is such a weird French expression this one ! 😊 Now what do you think this very popular French expression means in English: let’s have a look at the picture :

Something good 😀
some crap 💩

Two French words :
 “bon” = good
 “merde” = poo

It literaly means “Good shit” ?!?

What can it possibly mean ? To find out let’s have a look at the origin quite “malodorous” of this French expression ! ❤️

Bonne merde : origin

Saying ” good shit” to wish yourself good luck has its origins in the entertainment world. In the 19th century, the bourgeoisie went to the theater or the opera in a horse-drawn carriage, and the horses inevitably defecated in front of the entrance. The more successful the show, the more the carriages flocked and the more the spectators walked in the dung and carried some under their soles into the auditorium. The success of a play could therefore be measured by the layer of droppings that stained the room, and the people of the show got into the habit of wishing each other “shit” before each performance. Source : The internaute article

Bonne merde origin
Photo by Şahin Sezer Dinçer on

Thus the more done you have inside a theatre hall, the most successful the play was. Wishing “good shit” meant “good luck” 🙃

Bonne merde : French definition

Bonne merde French definition
Photo by Djalma Paiva Armelin on

Dire merde à quelqu’un, par antiphrase, lui souhaiter bonne chance.

Dictionnaire Larousse

“dire” ou “souhaiter bonne merde” is “to wish good luck” in French ! 🇫🇷 ☘️

Bonne merde : Example in French

Bonne merde example in French
Photo by Monica Silvestre on

“C’est ma première représentation ce soir, j’ai le trac !”.
– Je te souhaite bonne merde.
🇬🇧 “It is my first performance tonight and I am feeling nervous.
– I wish you gook luck !

Bonne merde : Translation in English

I think that a suitable translation for this colloquial French idiom : Bonne merde would be of course “Good luck”, but a more subtle one comes to my mind 🧐

Break a leg !

English idiom

💡 By the way, did you know that this English expression “Break a leg” also comes like “Bonne merde” from the theatre world. The expression probably reflects a superstition (perhaps a theatrical superstition) in which directly wishing a person “good luck” would be considered bad luck, therefore an alternative way of wishing luck was developed. Article source : Wordorigins.

Bonne merde english equivalent
Photo by Wellington Cunha on

The origin of this expression in English dates back to 1930. The first publication appeared in 1957, from the 29 May Associated Press wire service story about a dancer who literally broke her leg during a performance 🥺

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 !

Happy learning ! 🇫🇷😀❤️

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