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Laura K. Lawless

French expression: Mettre le doigt

By January 4, 2013

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If you read this lesson carefully, you'll be able to put your finger on what mettre le doigt means in various idiomatic French expressions.
More: French expressions

Comments

May 8, 2009 at 7:11 am
(1) John says:

what about “mettre le doigt dans le nez”? I heard this one, doesn’t it mean something like ‘its as easy as falling off a log”? merci bien, super info comme toujours! :-)

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Salut John, that uses a different verb: faire quelque chose les doigts dans le nez is informal and means “to do something with one’s eyes closed, to do something that is really easy.”

Laura K. Lawless
Learn French at About

May 8, 2009 at 9:55 am
(2) Kerry says:

Hi there, Laura! Thanks so much for a fantastic, indepth site with which to hone my French. In the paragraph that starts “se mettre le doigt dans l’oeil”, there is a typo: “another think coming” should read “another thing coming”. FYI. Keep up the great site. It’s more helpful than you know. Caio!

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Bonjour – I’m always eager to fix typos and mistakes, but in this case I disagree. While “you’ve got another thing coming” is found all over the place, the correct expression is in fact “another think coming.”

http://grammartips.homestead.com/anotherthink.html
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/16/messages/175.html
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/05/04/the_think_thing/

Laura K. Lawless
Learn French at About

May 8, 2009 at 11:29 am
(3) Matthew says:

Et l’expression, “montrer le doigt?” Ça veut dire quoi exactement? Ce sont complètement different?

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Montrer (quelque chose) du doigt means “to point (at something).”

Laura K. Lawless
Learn French at About

May 8, 2009 at 2:19 pm
(4) Loquamur says:

I vote with Laura on “another think coming.” (I’m a native-born & native-bred Anglophone.) The full, usually implied, version is: 1) “If you really think he’s going to do X, then you have another think coming.” It means, “You’re completely wrong; you will certainly have to change your mind.” It’s lexically allied with other English expressions like, 2) “[You'd better] think again!” which means, “You’re wrong; you’ll have to change your mind,” 3) “[At the altar I started] to have second thoughts,” i.e., “to reverse one’s opinion, to change one’s mind,” or 4) “[Despite paying good money for the parachute jump, once she was airborne she] thought better of it,” again, “to change one’s opinion.” Laura is RIGHT.

Regarding “mettre le doigt sur le problème,” let me suggest the English idiom (!), “to hit the nail on the head.” We all have our idioms.

–Loquamur

May 8, 2009 at 3:04 pm
(5) waltII says:

I like: en mettre sa main au feu – to eat one’s hat or stake one’s life on it. But that begs the subject “doigt”!
Peut-ĕtre: je n’arrive pas à mettre le doigt dessus!

January 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm
(6) Serge says:

J’adore ce que dit Coluche dans le film “La Femme de mon pote”, pensant avoir fait une grande découverte métaphysique : “Je viens de mettre le doigt sur quelque chose de vertigineux”.

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