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

Get prepared to find out everything you want to know about the basic French idiom “J’ai une dent contre lui”.

To be more specific, it includes a full guide of what it is and how to use it in everyday life with an audio example. Plus, we also sprinkled useful stuff like dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio, literal meaning and more!

If you are interested, you can find more of these idioms tutorials on this page plus all our pages about French words on this page. Have fun!

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French to English

How to pronounce it

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 use 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 sight 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 to 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)

Example in a story with translation

Now, let’s see a complete example of this idiom in a story with slow French audio and the English translation below.
Quel imbécile !
What an idiot!
Jacques:   Tu te souviens de mon ami Louis ?
Do you remember my friend Louis?
Alice:   Qui ? Ah, cet imbécile ?
Who? Ah, that idiot!
Jacques:   Wow ! Pourquoi tu dis ça ?!
Wow! Why do you say that?!
Alice:   Parce que c’est un imbécile ! Pour rester polie.
Because he’s an idiot! To stay polite.
Jacques:   Alice, dis-moi ce qu’il s’est passé.
Alice, tell me what happened.
Alice:   Je ne l’aime pas, c’est tout !
I don’t like him, that’s all!
Jacques:   En général, tu as une bonne raison pour ne pas aimer quelqu’un.
In general, you have a good reason for not liking someone.
Alice:   Et bien oui,
j’ai une dent contre luiLiterally: I have a tooth against him
. Et j’ai une bonne raison pour ça…
Well yes, I have a grudge against him. And I have a good reason for that…
Jacques:   Pourquoi tu lui en veux ?
Why are you mad at him?
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