French Expression: ne pas avoir garder les cochons ensemble

Meaning: to not be pally, to not be friendly

Literal Translation: to have not looked after pigs together

Illustration of a pig

Explanation: the French idiom ne pas avoir garder les cochons ensemble is generally used if somebody expresses an inappropriate or unwanted level of familiarity, such as by using tu rather than vous.

Here’s an example this expression being used in context:

Étudiant : << Bonjour Monsieur Beaumont, comment s’est passé ton week-end ? >>

Monsieur Beaumont : << Ne me tutoie pas ! On n’a pas gardé les cochons ensemble ! >>

I can’t really translate this example properly because we only have one version of “you” in English. As you can probably work out though, the student has used ton rather than votre, which Monsieur Beaumont has found inappropriate (tutoyer = to address with tu.)


Although you’re more likely to see this French idiom used in the negative form, you may also see it used without the ne…pas to refer to someone with whom you are familar and intimate, and who you have probably known a long time.

You may also see the verb garder replaced with éléver (“to raise”). Similarly, instead of les cochons you may also see les vaches (“cows”), les oies (“geese”), les dindons (“turkeys”).

Further Reading:

Le Figaro Article (in French): D’où vient l’expression «avoir élevé les cochons ensemble» ?

If you found this article useful, you might also be interested in my recently published Kindle e-book, The Little Book of French Idioms, which introduces you to more than 100 common idioms. For each of these expressions, there’s a literal translation, an explanation of its meaning, and an example of it being used in context.