I have already had several students ask me if the French use a lot of idioms. The answer is: yes. Very much so!

Today, I am going to present you 10 idiomatic expressions to talk about your health.

We will first see these expressions in a conversation and then I will explain them to you. 



- Hi, are you okay?

- No, I'm not. I'm sick as a dog.

- Damn! What's wrong ? 

- Aarf! I have a raging fever, it's horrible.

- You must have caught a cold at the pool, you came out with wet hair !

- I don't know, my head hurts like hell.

- You have to go to the doctor to get a drastic remedy.

- Yeah, but right now I'm stuck in bed, it's going to be complicated.

- Oh yes, be careful! You might faint.

- That would be silly. Humm hum. Sorry, I have a frog in my throat too.

- Well, listen, if you don't feel better and you're still not feeling well, I'll take you to the doctor. But I can't until tomorrow morning.

- That's nice, thank you. I hope I'll be better by then.

- Take care of yourself, kisses.


Être malade comme un chien

Means to be extremely sick to the point of isolation. We say "like a dog" because dogs when they are sick tend to isolate themselves. 

Language register: colloquial


Avoir une fièvre de cheval 

Means having a high fever around 39/40 degrees. Here, we speak of a horse fever, because in horses the fever rises very quickly and is violent.

Language register: colloquial

Avoir une fièvre de cheval : (literally = a horse’s fever) a raging fever


Attraper la mort / la crève

Means to catch, have a cold or a mild viral illness.

Language register: colloquial

Attraper la mort / la crève : (literally = to catch the death) to catch a cold


Avoir mal au crâne

Means to have a headache. In fact, the skull is the head, the top of the head.

Language register: colloquial

Avoir mal au crâne : a headache


Un remède de cheval

Yes, another expression with a horse. It's a very strong and effective remedy.

Language register: colloquial

Un remède de cheval : (literally = a horse remedy) a drastic remedy


Être cloué(e) au lit

Means that you are so sick that you can't get out of bed, you can't move from your bed.

Language register: colloquial

Être cloué(e) au lit : (literally = to be nailed to the bed) to be bed-ridden


Tomber dans les pommes

Means to faint, to lose consciousness.

Language register: colloquial

Tomber dans les pommes : (literally = to fall in the apples) to faint


Avoir un chat dans la gorge

It's when someone has difficulty in speaking, when one has a discomfort in the throat.

Language register: colloquial

Avoir un chat dans la gorge : (literally = to have a cat in the troat) to have a frog in your throat


Ne pas être / ne pas se sentir dans son assiette

Expression that we use when someone does not feel well, when one feels sick.

Language register: common

Ne pas être dans son assiette ou ne pas se sentir dans son assiette  : (literally = to not be in our plate) to feel under the weather


Reprendre du poil de la bête

It's when you feel better after being sick.

Language register: colloquial

Reprendre du poil de la bête  : (literally = to take back the beast’s hair ) to perk up

I'll see you soon for new adventures, in French of course! 🇫🇷