French Language Blog

La vie en rose: Expressions with Pink Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in Culture, Music, Vocabulary

This week’s post’s title comes from a very famous song by French songstress Edith Piaf. This song has known international success – I would say in part to its catchy chorus. I chose the title because we’re going to continue with colorful expressions. Last time, we looked at le vert, and this time, we’re going to study expressions and shades of le rose (pink) — not to be confused with la rose, the flower by the same name. Let’s study a few expressions with this word.

We’ll start with the title of the post. La vie en rose has been translated as “life through rose-tinted glasses.” Still doesn’t help much with the meaning, does it? To see things rose simply means you see the bright side of things! It’s a wonderful viewpoint to have, but for some, tout n’est pas rose (not everything is pink). This just means that things aren’t looking up for you. You could also translate it with the flower’s name in it: it’s not a bed or roses.

Le rose has a very feminine and floral idea behind it, and this extends to scent, too. Can you guess what ne pas sentir la rose means? It’s a familiar way of saying something smells horrible or rotten.

Do you practice a healthy lifestyle and work out? Besides all the added health benefits, you get to be compared to a flower in French. Quelle chance (what luck)! Etre frais comme une rose means to be as fit as a fiddle! A bit of a difference in the English counterpart, but the idea behind it is the same. Part of being fit means eating well, but attention: ne mangez pas trop de carrotes (be careful: don’t eat too many carrots)! Why not? Vous auriez les fesses roses (you’ll have pink buttcheeks)!

In English, boys are born “with snips and snails and puppy dog tails,” while girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice.” Well, I like dogs, so I won’t take offense to this. But French kids have it a little different: Les filles naissent dans les roses et les garçons dans les choux (girls are born among the roses, and boys are born among the cabbages). Again, no offense taken. I like cabbage. :-p Un carnet rose is a list of celebrities (les people) who have recently given birth.

Vous aimez boire (do you like to drink)? If someone drinks to the point of hallucinations, they’re said to see les éléphants roses. Want to find them? Maybe you can see them in la ville rose, the nickname of Toulouse. It has this name because of the colors of the bricks on the buildings.

Vous aimez lire (do you like to read)? Are you fans of sappy love stories? If so, you’re a fan of les roman à l’eau de rose. If something is à l’eau de rose, it means that it is sentimental.

Le rose also has a sexual connotation both in terms of anatomy and its use as an adjective to show that something is sexual.


Below you will find 12 shades of pink and their English counterparts:


rose – pink
cuisse de nymhe – literally “thigh of a nymph,” but this is referring to the color of Alba roses
rose bonbon – candy pink
rose corail – coral pink
magenta – magenta
rose tendre – baby pink
vieux rose – old pink
fuchsia –  fuchsia
rose dragée – pastel pink
rose vif / rose fluo – hot pink
rose saumon – salmon pink
incarnadin – incarnadine


…I’ll just leave this here.

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About the Author: Josh Dougherty

Just your typical francophile. If you have any topics you'd like me to discuss, feel free to let me know!


  1. Transparent Language:

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    And please remember that Pink Shirt Day is an anti-bullying programme that started in Canada and is now recognized across the world.

    Anti-Bullying Day (a.k.a. Pink Shirt day) is a day celebrated on various dates across the world, originating in Canada. In 2012, the United Nations declared the official day as May 4 and is recognized by over 25 countries worldwide, such as the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

    Enjoy reading your blog – thanks

    Betty Hillier