French Idioms – How To Say “Your Goose Is Cooked” In French

Today’s blog post was inspired by two amusing English idioms. On March 16, 2013, the outgoing president of the British Columbia Teachers Federation referred to the looming electoral defeat of Christy Clark, the leader of the provincial government, in these terms:

“You know, I may be a lame duck, but I think Christy’s goose is cooked.”

Notice how the first ‘bird’ idiom flows into the second for great contrast. A “lame duck’ is someone whose time in office is drawing to a close, and someone whose “goose is cooked” is soon to be in a very bad situation.

I love these kinds of idioms because they play with images and meanings. French idioms are no different. But since I’m not a professional translator, I will not attempt to translate the entire sentence. Instead, I want to concentrate on the idiom “your goose is cooked.” Is there an equivalent French idiom?

Most of the Internet translations are totally hilarious and meaningless like:

*Votre oie est faite cuire.

Other translations are more accurate and propose solutions like:

Vous êtes foutu.
Vous êtes fait comme un rat.

Not bad. However there is another solution that I want to propose because it allows me to compare how English and French use similar words. My suggestion is:

Vous êtes fini, ni-i-ni !

Here the “ni-i-ni” is very important and should be emphasized in the pronunciation. This is what gives the phrase its punch and highlights “fini” and the meaning of “finished”. “all washed up” or “game over.”

Beginning students of French are warned not to say “* Êtes-vous fini ?” when they want to say “Are you finished?” Instead they learn to say “Avez-vous fini?” or “Avez-vous terminé?” In French, “être fini,” when used with persons or people, does not mean “to have finished doing something.” Quite the contrary, it means, as we have seen, “to be washed up.”

In all the other situations, you can use être or avoir with fini and terminé. There are other possible variations. Here are some examples:

La guerre est finie. (The war is over.)
La gerre a pris fin. (The war ended.)
La réunion est terminée. (The meeting is over)
La réunion, c’est terminé. (The meeting is over.)
La reunion s’est terminée vers 21 h. (The meeting ended at 9 pm.)
Ça y est, c’est terminé la réunion. (That’s it. The meeting is over.)

In passing, note that “c’est terminé” and “s’est terminée” sound exactly the same. Note the differences in spelling as well.

In restaurants here is how you will often hear the server ask you if you have finished your meal:

Est-ce que c’est terminé ici ?
Ça y est ?
Est-ce que ça y est ?

Here are some examples of how to say that you’ve finished doing something:

J’ai fini.
J’ai terminé.
C’est fini,

Ça y est, j’ai terminé.

This “ça y est” is very common.

Nothing prevents you of course from saying “Je suis fini/e.” Just be careful that you know what you are saying. In the quote at the beginning of this post, this is an ideal situation where “Elle est finie, nie-i-nie” is totally appropriate.

Stanley Aléong is a polyglot, author, musician and language coach in French, English and Spanish. He likes to share his passion for languages and believes that anybody can learn to speak a foreign language well with the right methods and tools. He has also invented a cool visual learning tool called the Language Wall Chart Calendar that is based on his own learning experience. Reach him at

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