French Language Blog

It’s In The Pocket – Fun French Expressions With La Poche Posted by on Nov 21, 2018 in Vocabulary

Some expressiosn françaises (French expressions) are as close as les poches (pockets). In fact, this little word poche is hiding quite a few fun expressions.

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

My confusion with la poche in une expression française was brought up recently while I was at Disneyland. When leaving the studio section of the park, there’s a big sign that says:

C’est dans la boîte !
It’s in the box!

La phrase (the phrase, the sentence) immediately confused me, mais heureusement (but luckily), the sign was bilingue (bilingual) and I instantly understand the slangy nature of it:

That’s a wrap!

C’est dans la boîte made me think of a very similar expression I heard a few years ago. After I finished my final exams and all that was left was waiting for mon diplome (my diploma), many of mes camarades de classe (my classmates) started using une expression I had never heard before:

C’est dans la poche !
It’s in the pocket!

Given the context it was easy to figure out it had something to do with being satisfied with the exam results, but I didn’t know exactly what it meant. I looked it up and learned that l’expression is a metaphor using the idea of la poche. If something is in la poche, that usually means it already belongs to you. Understanding that, the English equivalent quickly jumps to mind:

It’s in the bag!

I was curious about other expressions that use la poche and to my surprise there are some fun ones:

Avoir des oursins dans la poche
To have sea urchins in your pocket

L’expression uses quite vivid imagery, but its meaning may not be immediately obvious. Certainly someone who has un oursin dans la poche wouldn’t want to risk touching les piquants (the spines). Now if you imagine what is most often in someone’s pocket – besides un smartphonel’expression should start to become clear:

Être avare
To be stingy

Une autre expression (one other expression):

Acheter chat en poche
To buy cat in pocket

It may not help you understand its meaning, but cette expression can also be used with acheter (to buy) and poche here takes on its older meaning of un sac (a bag).

L’idée (the idea) behind buying or selling a cat in a bag is that you can’t see what’s inside it before the deal is done. So it means to blindly make a deal, usually with connotations of naivety or making a mistake.

Acheter ou vendre quelque chose sans l’avoir examiner
To buy or sell something without having examined it

I can imagine le vendeur (the seller) would likely say c’est dans la poche after selling something other than a cat to an unlucky customer.

In a more positive light, the next time you’re nearly done with a hard project or a big event at work, try using this fun french expression to show your relief that it’s all coming together:

C’est dans la poche !
It’s in the bag!

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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.