Ne pas digérer quelque chose

Digestive biscuit
Digestive biscuit photographed by Qiao-Da-Ye.

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, “Ne pas digérer quelque chose.”

Literally translated as, “not digesting something,” it means holding a grudge about something, being unhappy about a past situation, and not being able to let it go.

Example: “Il n’a toujours pas digéré ce qu’il considère comme une erreur d’arbitrage.” “He still hasn’t digested what he considers to be a referee error.”

Listen to the idiom and example read aloud:


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

The image is easy to understand: life experiences are seen here as foods, and a situation that’s painful, upsetting or humiliating won’t go down easily. On the contrary, you’re likely to mull over it — to ruminate, really — for a while, just like those foods you find hard to digest will “haunt” you (such a pleasant feeling) for hours after you’ve eaten them.

A closely related expression to this one is, Ça me reste en travers de la gorge — it stays stuck in my throat — which means the same thing and draws upon a similar idea.

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