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tirer les marrons du feu

“Tirer les marrons du feu” is a fun little expression that means literally “to pull the chestnuts out of the fire”. English means include the following:

  • to do the dirty work
  • to do somebody’s dirty work

A French-to-French definition according to is to take advantage of a situation for one’s own benefit, sometimes in a dishonest way. According to the site the expression dates from 1640 but appeared in a Jean de la Fontaine fable called the Monkey and the Cat.

example sentence:

  • Pierre va gagner tout l’argent alors que j’ai fait tout le travail! Comme d’habitude c’est moi qui tire les marrons du feu. Pierre is going to earn all the money while I’m the one who did all the work! As usual I’m the one who does the dirty work.

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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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