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être sur la paille

The French expression “être sur la paille” translates literally to “to be on the straw”.

English meaning:

  • to wind up in the gutter
  • to be penniless

French meaning:

  • sans argent – without money
  • dans la misère – in misery

Example sentence:

  • Mon ami a été sur la paille il y a un an. Aujourd’hui il gère une affaire rentable et tient une belle maison. My friend was in the gutter a year ago. Today he manages a profitable business and owns a beautiful home.

Related expressions:

  • être fauché – to be broke
  • être en faillite – to be broke, bankrupt (applies to businesses)
  • être raide – to be broke (slang)

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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