The Many French Idiomatic Expressions With 'Avoir' ('to Have')

Expressions with 'avoir' take you from 'feeling blue' to 'feeling great'

"Elle doit avoir froid." She must be cold.
"Elle doit avoir froid." She must be cold. Sam Edwards/Caiaimage/Getty Images

The French verb avoir ("to have") is one of the most useful, flexible, and basic verbs in the French language, which probably explains its propensity to pop up in a slew of idiomatic expressions. French idiomatic expressions using avoir take you on a tour of the human condition, from feeling blue to feeling great, having charm to having the giggles, being right to being wrong.

Here are a few of the many expressions that use avoir.

  • avoir ___ ans > to be ___ years old
  • avoir à  + infinitive > to have to do something
  • avoir beau + infinitive > despite doing, however much (one) does
  • avoir besoin de > to need
  • avoir chaud > to be hot
  • avoir confiance en > to trust
  • avoir de la chance > to be lucky
  • avoir du charme > to have charm
  • avoir du chien (informal) > to be attractive, have a certain something
  • avoir du pain sur la planche (informal) > to have a lot to do, have a lot on one's plate
  • avoir du pot (informal) > to be lucky
  • avoir envie de > to want
  • avoir faim > to be hungry
  • avoir froid > to be cold
  • avoir honte de > to be ashamed of/about
  • avoir horreur de > to detest/loathe
  • avoir l'air (de) > to look (like)
  • avoir la frite > to feel great
  • avoir la gueule de bois > to have a hangover, to be hungover
  • avoir la patate > to feel great
  • avoir le beurre et l'argent du beurre > to have one's cake and eat it too
  • avoir le cafard (informal) > to feel low / blue / down in the dumps
  • avoir l'esprit de l'escalier > to be unable to think of witty comebacks in time
  • avoir le fou rire > to have the giggles
  • avoir le mal de mer > to be seasick
  • avoir les chevilles qui enflent (informal) > to be full of oneself
  • avoir l'habitude de > to be used to, in the habit of
  • avoir l'heure > to have (know) the time

    Additional Resources

    Conjugations of avoir
    All about avoir