French Language Blog

Buckle Up And Learn A New French Expression! Posted by on Jan 17, 2018 in Culture, Vocabulary

Learning des nouvelles expressions (new expressions) is always a mix of confusion and fun. It’s fun finding new and creative ways to say something, but it can also be incredibly frustrating when you hear something and have no idea what it means. 

Image by Dano on Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Even if you know every word in la phrase (the sentence), it’s easy to have no idea what they mean in une expression! If you’re in the classroom or chez soi (at home) it’s not a big deal, but sometimes when I’m au bureau (at work), mes collègues (my coworkers) will use une expression while explaining something related to work! 

Un exemple récent (a recent example), is une expression that uses the word boucle twice to mean two different things. Mon collègue held a meeting to faire le point after the end of a project and said something I didn’t understand:

On a bouclé la boucle. 

I only knew la boucle as the word for buckle and because I was stuck thinking in English, I couldn’t figure out what mon collègue was trying to say! My wrong interpretation of l’expression, while funny, did not help me understand la phrase:

We buckled the buckle. 

Fortunately, mon collègue could see how confused I was and quickly said something they were sure I would understand:

C’est terminé !
It’s finished! 

That helped me understand the meaning of l’expression, but I was honestly still confused. Une fois chez moi (once I was home) I looked up l’expression and found out that la boucle is more than a buckle and boucler is more than to buckle!

La boucle – Loop
Boucler – To close off, to come to the end 

When I found l’équivalent anglais (the English equivalent) of l’expression, j’ai bouclé la boucle ! 

Boucler la boucle
To come full circle 

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. Sylvia:

    The same expression is widely used in English – ‘to close the loop’. It means to bring a process or a discussion to a close with a definite resolution, agreement or action. It promises a completion. See for example:

    ‘To come full circle’ is a little different – meaning to be back at the beginning or to return to the same question as before after a long discussion. A topic that goes round and round. It might have been resolved but typically a resolution has not yet been reached.