Haut Comme Trois Pommes

French expression analyzed and explained

Three apples
TJH1976/Flickr/Public Domain

The French expression haut comme trois pommes (pronounced [o kuhm trwa puhm]) literally means "high like three apples." It is used the same way as the English expression "knee-high to a grasshopper" and is used to describe someone very young or short. It has an informal register.

Haut Comme Trois Pommes and Smurfs

You're probably familiar with the Smurfs, comic book characters introduced in Le Journal de Spirou in 1958, by the Belgian artist Peyo.

Known as Schtroumpfs in French, Smurfs were exported to the US in the 80s in the form of popular cartoons and figurines.

One thing you might remember about Smurfs (other than that they were blue), was that they were described as "three apples tall" - Peyo obviously said that they were hauts comme trois pommes, and the literal translation was used in the American adaptation to describe their height.

The idiomatic English equivalent, however, can only be used figuratively: "knee-high to a grasshopper" can't literally describe a person's height, but rather means "(when I was) a young child."

Examples and Variations

   La dernière fois que je l'ai vu, j'étais haut comme trois pommes.
   The last time I saw him, I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

   Le père de Sandrine a déménagé à Paris quand elle était haute comme trois pommes.
   Sandrine's father moved to Paris when she was knee-high to a grasshopper.

You may see the following variations:

   Grand comme trois pommes à genoux
   Haut comme trois pommes à genoux
   Haut comme trois pommes couchées
   Haut comme deux pommes (expression québécoise)