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donner du fil à retordre à quelqu’un

The French expression “donner du fil à retordre à quelqu’un” offers lots of imagery as it translates literally to “to give a thread back to somebody to spin (or twist) again”. Here’s the English meaning:

  • to make somebody’s life difficult
  • to give somebody the run-around
  • to give somebody a hard time

Expressio.fr offers the following meaning in French: To cause somebody difficulties or trouble. Here’s an example sentence:

  • Tout d’un coup j’ai plusieurs personnes qui m’appellent à la fois et ils me donnent du fil a retordre! I suddenly have lots of people that are calling me all at the same time and they’re making my life difficult!

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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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