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Coûter les yeux de la tête – French Idiom

Coûter les yeux de la tête – French Idiom

Today we’ll have a look at the fun French expression coûter les yeux de la tête. This expression means “to cost an arm and a leg” or “to cost a fortune”. The literal translation is: “to cost the eyes of the head”.

coûter les yeux de la tête

to cost am arm and a leg, to cost a fortune

Coûter les yeux de la tête = to cost an arm and a leg, to cost a fortune

While the exact origin of this expression seems to be unknown, Linternaute.fr suggests that the attachment of importance or high value to the eyes is very clear. Here are some example sentences.

Example sentences

For this first example sentence, the expression avoir les moyens translates literally to “to have the means” and means “to be able to afford”.

Le fromage français aux États-Unis coûte les yeux de la tête ! Je n’ai pas les moyens de l’acheter.

French cheese in the United States costs an arm and a leg. I can’t afford to buy it.

Je veux acheter une nouvelle voiture mais malheureusement ça coûte les yeux de la tête !

I want to buy a new car but unfortunately it cost a fortune!

This example sentence uses les vacances (vacation), which we covered in this lesson.

La famille veut partir en vacances aux Maldives mais les billets d’avion coûtent les yeux de la tête !

The family wants to go on vacation to the Maldives but the plane tickets cost a fortune!

Synonymous expression

In French, there’s a synonymous expression for coûter les yeux de la tête: “Coûter la peau des fesses”. The literal translation of this expression is: “to cost the skin of the bottom”. Les feseses is slang for buttocks or bottom. This expression may be seen as a bit strong than coûter les yeux de la tête.

Conclusion

Congratulations ! You can now use this new expression in French. Now have a look at some more lessons covering fun expressions including avoir le cafard (to be depresssed), tomber dans les pommes (to faint) and être soupe au lait (to be quick to anger).

Woman on vacation in the Maldives
Les billets d’avion coûtent les yeux de la tête = The plane tickets cost an arm and a leg

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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 FrenchLearner, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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