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une histoire à dormir debout

The French expression “une histoire à dormir debout” translates literally to “a story to sleep standing”. A loose translation is “a story about sleeping standing up”. Unbelievable, right? Here are some English meanings:

  • cock-and-bull story
  • tall story

The French expressions site, suggests “à dormir debout” means unbelievable, implausible, absurd or illogical.

  • Il m’a raconté comment il s’est battu dans chaque guerre depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale: ce sont des histoires à dormir debout! He hold me how he’d fought in each war since World War II. Cock-and-bull stories!

There’s another great synonymous expression for “une histoire a dormir debout:

  • une histoire sans queue ni têteA story with neither tail nor head

main expressions page

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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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