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donner sa langue au chat

“Donner sa langue au chat” is a funny little French expression which has a meaning that’s impossible to guess. The literal translation is “to give one’s tongue to the cat”. English translations include:

  • to give up
  • to give in

According to, a French-to-French definition is “to give up trying to find or guess a solution. Another French definition is “abandonner l’idée de faire quelque chose” or giving up the idea to do something.

example sentence:

  • Les problèmes d’algèbre sont tellement difficiles: je finis toujours par donner ma langue au chat. Algebra problems are so difficult. I always give up in the end.

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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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