faire le pied de grue

  • coelacanthes

    New Member
    I always tought this expression would mean being stand still, or a the same place for a long periode of time. Exemple : "Faire le pied de grue devant les portes d'un magasin" By the way a "grue" is a tall bird with long legs.


    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    coelacanthes said:
    I always tought this expression would mean being stand still, or a the same place for a long periode of time. Exemple : "Faire le pied de grue devant les portes d'un magasin" By the way a "grue" is a tall bird with long legs.
    Right. And the "grue" can stand on one leg for a long time acting as a sentinel...


    New Member
    UK English
    I first saw this phrase in L'Indépendant, the newspaper covering the Languedoc-Roussillon. A lot of people were "hanging around" ("faisaient le pied de grue") in the hopes of spotting a baby crocodile which had been seen emerging from a gulley or drain (agouille) at the edge of the inland lake of St Laurent-de-la- Salanque, near Perpignan.


    Senior Member
    Iran, Farsi
    Just to add further clarification
    I recently saw this in the Memoirs of the Comte de Rochefort:

    He was told that his fiancée was a woman of bad reputation and when his friend told him to watch the "place of debauchery" he did in fact see his fiancée go in, covering her face with a scarf...

    Mais croyant que les yeux avoient trompé, parce qu'il ne l'avoit vûë qu'au travers de la fenêtre, il décendit en bas le nés caché dans son manteau, & fit le pié de gruë, jusques à ce qu'elle sortît.
    He's staying in one place for a long time, waiting for something.


    Senior Member
    France, French
    Doesn't "grue" connote a woman of ill repute?
    True, a "grue" is (among other things) a street prostitute, standing on the sidewalk and inviting potential customers.

    But "Faire le pied de grue" means waiting (in a standing position) passively for a long time until someone shows up or something occurs.


    English - American
    This quote appeared in the online encyclopedia: "Linternaute Encyclopédie" and should help to clarify where the phrase comes from.
    Appeared in the seventeenth century, the phrase "to do the foot crane" has replaced "to do the leg crane. It came from the verb "Gruer" which meant "wait". Moreover, it was also a reference to the crane as a bird, often cited to describe a stupid person. "Make the heels" is equivalent to "wait while seeming a bit silly."
    I hope that helps :)


    New Member
    English - England
    Subtle differences: To "hang around" and to "hang about" are almost interchangeable eg "Don't hang around (Don't just stay here/don't waist time) doing nothing! Go and do something, now!"
    To "hang out" is slightly different and can mean to frequent. eg They hang out at Tony's place. (They often go to Tony's house/flat/bar...)
    All three expressions have the sense of spending time doing nothing much.


    Senior Member
    Yes, but in my eyes you wouldn't use "faire le pied de grue" in French in a situation where you say "Don't hang around doing nothing!" (which would normally be translated "Ne reste/traîne pas là à ne rien faire" or so).

    I think that the idea of waiting (and often: waiting for a long time and in vain), and not of "doing nothing", is really central to "faire le pied de grue".


    Senior Member
    American English
    Just wanted to add this citation to the discussion:
    Dès le début d'après-midi, badauds et journalistes font le pied de grue. Caméras et appareils photos sont parfaitement réglés. Tout ce petit monde est à l'affût de la moindre information. Une femme d'une certain âge demande si c'est M. Sarkozy qui arrive. Non c'est Jean Dujardin. "Je l'ai vu hier à la télé. C'est dommage j'aurai préféré voir George Clooney." Et Toc.

    One thing bugs me about this quotation: the lack of punctuation. In the English-speaking world, a newspaper of comparable stature to l'Express would never publish something on the order of No it's Jean Dujardin, or even worse, It's a pity I would have preferred to see George Clooney. They would put a comma after "No" and start a new sentence after "pity" (or at least separate "pity" and "I" with an em-dash).

    Emails I receive from native French speakers often lack proper punctuation as well. I'm not sure what the cause is, as most French are generally better educated most Americans.
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