The French idiom "J'ai une dent contre lui" revealed

Get prepared to discover all the things you want to know about the basic expression “J’ai une dent contre lui”.

More precisely, this includes a detailed explanation of what it is and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. Plus, we also added useful stuff like synonym, slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example and more!

Oh and in case you are interested, you will find our others expressions explained on this page plus all our French words pages on this page. Wish you a good learning!

Table of Contents

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Translation in English

Audio pronunciation

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean exactly?


  • J’ai une dent → I have a tooth
  • Contre → Against
  • Lui → Him

The simplest way to translate it in English would be “To be mad at somebody“. But you should know that the meaning is wider than “Mad” and also has a sense of bitterness / resentment.

Then, the more precise way to translate it would be “To have a grudge against somebody“. But why using the word “Tooth” to express such feelings? 

Teeth are a symbol of aggressivity, of hardness, but also danger. In nature, it’s rarely a pleasant sign to see the teeth of any wild animal… this is a showcase of primitive instincts.

We can see these primitive instincts as a form of resentment against the other species. These species being a threat for their survival.

So, having a tooth against someone means that your bitterness might make you “use your teeth” against this person, so you can have your revenge.

How to use it

Let’s say you feel resentment and bitterness toward someone, this person betrayed you or did you wrong in the past.

Instead of saying that you hold a grudge against this person, you can use the idiom “J’ai une dent contre lui” if he is a man and “J’ai une dent contre elle” if she is a woman.

In the next paragraph, you will find more variations with more pronouns.


  • Avoir une dent contre quelqu’un. (“To have a grudge against someone“)
  • Je lui en veux. (“I have a grudge against him“)
  • J’ai une dent contre toi. (“I have a grudge against you“)
  • J’ai une dent contre elle. (“I have a grudge against her“)
  • J’ai une dent contre eux. (“I have a grudge against them“)(Neutral and masculine)
  • J’ai une dent contre elles. (“I have a grudge against them“)(Feminine)

Dialogue example

Audio dialogue from French people

Dialogue audio

Dialogue transcription

” J’ai une dent contre lui “
” I have a tooth against him “
” Pourquoi ? “
” Why? “
” Il m’a trahi “
” He betrayed me “
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