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tenir la jambe à quelqu’un

The French expression “tenir la jambe à quelqu’un” translates literally to “to hold somebody’s leg”.

English meanings:

  • to buttonhole
  • to accost, force to converse
  • to have somebody in a corner
  • to not let somebody go (in conversation)

French meanings:

  • retenir quelqu’un en lui parlant longtemps – Lit: to hold or detain somebody speaking to him or her for a long time

Example sentence:

  • Je suis arrivé à la réunion en retard parce que j’ai croisé mon ami dans la rue et il m’a tenu la jambe. I arrived to the meeting late because I bumped into my friend in the street and wouldn’t let me go.


  • aborder/accoster quelqu’un au sujet de quelque chose – Lit: to start or accost somebody on a subject

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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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