Coeur d’artichaut

Coeur d'artichaut

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, “Cœur d’artichaut.”

Literally translated as, “artichoke heart,” it is used to describe someone who falls in love easily and frequently, possibly with several people at the same time — or at least in rapid succession. It can be used either as avoir un cœur d’artichaut (having an artichoke heart) or être un cœur d’artichaut (being an artichoke heart).

Example: “Elle était très amoureuse de lui, mais elle s’est vite rendu compte que c’était un cœur d’artichaut.” “She was very much in love with him, but she soon realized he was an artichoke heart.”

Listen to the idiom and example read aloud:

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

This idiom dates back to the nineteenth century, and is built as a variation on the maxim, “Cœur d’artichaut, une feuille pour tout le monde” (“Artichoke heart, a leaf for everyone”).

It plays on the fact that the center of the artichoke is called its heart, making it natural to link it to matters of love, and suggests that each of its many leaves represents a different romantic interest.

Do you know anyone whom you’d call a cœur d’artichaut?

  • Très interessant. The audio file helps a lot. I love how I can practice my french and be inspired to cook all in one place! Merci!

    • Thanks, I’m glad you like it!

  • When I saw this I instantly thought of Cibo Matto’s song Artichoke (‘My heart is like an artichoke/I eat petals myself one by one…’) which has always seemed to me the opposite of the French expression – a song about loneliness and unrequited love! I wonder if they were aware of the French meaning when they wrote it…

    • I didn’t know of that song, but the image breaks my heart!

  • Thank you for posting an audio file. It helped me so much :D

  • Great work by attaching audio file, It’s very helpful for my friend.

  • I suppose it’s rather like being flaky, shedding leaves in somewhat promiscuous fashion!

    I’ve enjoyed looking back over these idioms; some I’m familiar with, some I’ve heard or read but been unsure of the sense, many I don’t know at all.

    I like ‘haut comme trois pommes’ to describe a small child. Is the expression ‘faire le poireau’ – meaning to be made to wait around pointlessly (like a bored husband on a shopping trip!), still at all current? A friend found it in an older text and asked about it, I asked my older students who knew and explained it, but younger people I’ve mentioned it to don’t know it all.

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • I think the idiom is not so much in use nowadays — I know it from having read it, but I’ve never heard anyone actually use it. “Faire le pied de grue” (in reference to a crane’s leg) would be the closest in-use equivalent.

  • Papounet

    “Faire le poireau” is indeed quite unusual nowadays, but the verb that was derived from the expression, “poireauter”, is still very much in use.
    “Faire le pied de grue” (to do the crane’s foot…) means more specifically to wait while standing up, which is not necessarily the case when you “poireaute”. It used to be “Faire la jambe de grue” (to do the crane’s leg). It got simplified to the extremity…

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