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 expressio.fr 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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