Cheveux poivre et sel

Cheveux poivre et sel

Illustration by MelinArt.

This is part of a series on French idiomatic expressions that relate to food. Browse the list of idioms featured so far.

This week’s expression is, “Cheveux poivre et sel.”

Literally translated as, “pepper and salt hair,” it is used to describe graying hair. It is also — though less often — used to describe someone’s beard (barbe) or sideburns (favoris).

Example: “C’était un monsieur d’un certain âge, aux cheveux poivre et sel.” “It was a man of a certain age, with pepper and salt hair.”

Listen to the idiom and example read aloud:


(If no player appears, here’s a link to the audio file.)

I find this expression quite charming, but we’ll see how I’ll feel when my hair eventually turns gray! It plays on the color contrast between black pepper and white salt to describe the fact that graying hair is, in fact, a mix of dark and light hair.

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