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aller au charbon

The French expression “aller au charbon” translates literally to “to go to the coal. This is an expression with multiple usages.

English meanings:

  • to stick your neck out
  • to do your bit
  • to do your part
  • to roll up your sleeves

French meanings:

  • prendre un risque to take a risk (stick your neck out)
  • travailler, fournir un effort to work, put forth an effort
  • accepter un travail désagréable to accept an unpleasant job
  • accepter une corvée – Lit: to accept a chore or drudgery

Example sentences:

  • L’homme politique va au charbon en exprimant sa vraie opinion. The politician sticks his neck out by expressing his true opinion.
  • L’employé va au charbon et accepte de nettoyer les toilettes. The employee does hit bit by washing the bathroom.

Related Expressions/synonyms:

  • se mouiller – Lit: to get wet; synonym for sticking your neck out
  • jouer son rôle – Lit: to play his role; synonym for doing your bit
  • faire sa part du boulot – Lit: to do his part of the work; synonym for doing your bit
  • faire un effort – Lit: to make an effort; synonym for doing your bit

more expressions

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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