Mettre les bouchées doubles

Photography by Astrid Berglund.

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, “Mettre les bouchées doubles.”

Literally (and awkwardly) translated as, “putting the double bites,” it means doubling your efforts.

Example: “Il va falloir mettre les bouchées doubles si on veut boucler le projet avant la fin du mois.” “We need to double our efforts if we want to complete the project before the end of the month.”

Listen to the idiom and example read aloud:

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

This idiom appeared in the middle of the ninetieth century, and the original meaning was quite literal: it simply meant eating very fast, shoveling twice the normal amount of food into your mouth.

Its meaning quickly broadened, using the image of the meal to symbolize any kind of task or project that needs to be expedited, and this is the way the expression is used today.

  • ruth

    What’s the picture of?

    • The picture is not by me so I can’t say for sure, but it looks to me like chocolate-filled dumplings of some sort.

  • Astonishing how many expressions have their origins in food! Merci!

  • As a lifelong francophile, a foodie, and your reader, I adore this feature! Keep them coming!

  • love this feature! I don’t speak a lick of French, but it’s interesting to see how certain expressions come about, and how they differ from culture to culture.

  • I love this series you have going! The French language has such a deep connection with food and cooking that we’d all be missing out if we didn’t explore.

  • EB

    These are still some of my favorite posts.

  • My mother uses that expression sometimes. It sounds funny to me. lol

  • beauxbrie

    Absolutely love that you post these idioms. Isn’t it great how food infiltrates our lives!

  • Kitt

    Being someone who cooks french food and speak a wee bit of french, I really enjoyed your French food idiom blog

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