Tomber dans les pommes

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‘Tomber dans les pommes’ is a very popular French expression and very common too ! Find out how this French idiom is linked to a famous French writer !

Tomber dans les pommes

Tomber dans les pommes meaning in English

Tomber dans les pommes meaning in English
Photo de Mareefe provenant de Pexels

This common French expression certainly looks tasty 😋

Now what do you think is the meaning of this popular French idiom ‘Tomber dans les pommes’, let’s have a look at the picture :

a pile of apples : ‘les pommes’
a man falling in it : ‘tomber’

It litterally means : ‘to fall in the apples’ 🍎

But what can it possibly means? Let’s have a look at its origin to understand 🤓

Tomber dans les pommes origin

Tomber dans les pommes origin
George Sand the French writer

The appearance of this expression is confirmed in 1889, but the real origin is unknown.


Some have assumed that ‘apples‘ were a deformation of palms, ‘pâmes’ in French (swooning, fainting), but this term has not been used at all since the 15th century and therefore it is extremely implausible that a verbal deformation may have taken place in the 19th century.


The most probable origin, would come from a phrase that George Sand uses in a letter to Madame Dupin, in which she writes “to be in the cooked apples” to say that she is in a state of advanced fatigue, to be compared to the expression ‘être cuit’, to be cooked.


This phrase, may be influenced by the former ‘pâmer’, swoon, would have given the current phrase.

Tomber dans les pommes illustration with a poem

Tomber dans les pommes illustration with a poem
Maurice Carême a Belgian poet

Here is a poem from the Belgian poet ‘Maurice Carême’. Born in 1899, Maurice used to be a teacher and he became famous writing down-to-earth and easy-to-understand poems destined to children.

Je ne suis qu’une pomme
Un peu rouge, un peu jaune
Parmi beaucoup de pommes.
Je ne sais ce que pensent
Les centaines de pommes
Que le grand vent balance
Au milieu de l’automne.
Je m’accroche comme elles
En suppliant le ciel
De ne pas me laisser
Choir trop tôt sur le pré.
Je ne suis qu’une pomme
Un peu rouge, un peu jaune
Parmi beaucoup de pommes
Qui ne savent pourquoi
II leur faut être pomme
Dans un pommier d’automne
Et tomber comme moi.

I’m just an apple
A little red, a little yellow
Among many apples.
I don’t know what they think
Hundreds of apples
Let the great wind swing
In the middle of autumn.
I hold on like them
Begging the sky
Not to let me
To fall too early on the meadow.
I’m just an apple
A little red, a little yellow
Among many apples
Who don’t know why
They have to be an apple
In an autumn apple tree
And fall like me.

Tomber dans les pommes Translation in English

Tomber dans les pommes translation in English
Photo de Juan C. Palacios provenant de Pexels

I think that a suitable translation for this amazing French expression is :

to faint, to pass out, to black out

s’évanouir, tomber dans les pommes

Tomber dans les pommes French example

Tomber dans les pommes French example
Photo de David Savochka provenant de Pexels

Here is an example taken form the literature :

« Le docteur Baumal (…) c’est lui qu’on appelait rue de la Pompe pour s’occuper des gars qui étaient tombés dans les pommes; il les ranimait, et on recommençait à leur tortiller les doigts de pied. »

Simone de Beauvoir – Les Mandarins

“Doctor Baumal (…) he was called to rue de la Pompe to take care of the guys who had fallen out of the woods; he revived them, and they began to twist their toes again. “

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 next time for more French idioms in English ! 👍🧡

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