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French Idiom: “Avoir la flemme” to be lazy/can’t be bothered

French Idiom: “Avoir la flemme” to be lazy/can’t be bothered

“Avoir la flemme” is a commonly used French idiom that translates literally to “to have phlegm” and means “to be lazy”, “not feel like”, “can’t be asked” and “can’t be bothered”. La flemme translates to “laziness”. A French definition is the adjective fainéant, which also translates to lazy.

Avoir la flemme

to be lazy to, can’t be bothered

Avoir la flemme

According to, the expression avoir la flemme dates back to the Middle Ages. At that time, doctors thought that certain body fluids had an impact on mood and behavior. Somebody with little “phlegm” was said to be full of energy.

Here are some sample sentences:

Je devrais apprendre tous ces nouveaux verbes que le prof m’a donnés mais j’ai la flemme.

I should learn all these verbs that the teacher gave me but I can’t be bothered.

Avoir la flemme can also be followed by de + infinitive, meaing “to be too lazy to + verb”. Here’s an example:

J’ai la flemme de travailler aujourd’hui. Je reste sur le canapé devant la télévision.

I can’t be bothered to work today. I’ll stay on the sofa in front of the TV.


Et voilà ! You now know how to use the expression avoir la flemme. Now check out our other fun posts covering the expressions tomber dans les pommes (to faint), le coup de foudre (love at first sight) and avoir le cafard (to feel depressed).

Exmple sentence using "avoir la flemme"

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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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