The French idiom "J'ai les dents longues"

Are you ready to find out everything you need to know about the basic idiom “J’ai les dents longues”?

To be clear, it includes a complete definition of what it is and how you can use it in a dialogue with an audio example. As well as the cool informations we added like literal meaning, slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example and more!

Oh and before I forget, you will find our others idioms guides on this page plus the list of all our French words content on this page. Ready to learn? C’est parti ! (Let’s go!)

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English translation

Pronunciation example

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean?


  • Avoir → To have
  • Les dents longues → Long teeth

This idiom used to mean: “To be hungry” which seems logical, but with time it ended up meaning: “To be ambitious“.

Why? Because teeth are a symbol of strength / aggressivity and because “hunger” is an image for ambition. Just like in English we have: “I’m hungry for the power“.

So having “long teeth” represents having a lot of ambition and having a shark mindset: ready to do anything to succeed.

How to use it

You can use it about yourself “Je ferai de grandes choses, j’ai les dents longues.” (I will achieve big things, I’m ambitious.)

But also about someone else: “Ça ne m’étonne pas, il a les dents longues.” (I’m not surprised, he is ambitious.)

Fun stuff

We have an even more extreme expression: “Avoir les dents qui rayent le parquet” which means “To have teeth (so long that they are) scratching the floor“.

That’s a lot of ambition!

Synonyms and similarities

  • Avoir les dents qui rayent le parquet. (“To have teeth scratching the floor“)
  • Être un requin. (“To be a shark“)
  • Tu as les dents longues. (“You have long teeth“)
  • Il a les dents longues. (“He has long teeth“)
  • Elle a les dents longues. (“She has long teeth“)

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.
Mon plus grand rêve
My biggest dream
Claude:   Quel est ton plus grand rêve ?
What is your biggest dream?
Léa:   Honnêtement ?
Claude:   Oui, honnêtement.
Yes, honnestly.
Léa:   Eh bien, je veux gagner beaucoup d’argent et vivre dans le luxe.
Well I want to make a lot of money and live in luxury.
Claude:   Wow, je ne savais pas que tu avais des goûts de luxe…
Wow, I didn’t know you had luxury tastes…
Léa:   Oui
j’ai les dents longuesLiterally: I have long teeth
, comme tout le monde, non ?
Yes I am ambitious, like everybody, right?
Claude:   Je ne sais pas… C’est quoi le luxe pour toi ?
I don’t know… What’s luxury for you?
Léa:   Être capable d’acheter tout ce que veux, et conduire une belle voiture.
Being able to buy anything and driving a nice car.
Claude:   Intéressant… Quelle voiture par exemple ?
Interesting… What car for example?
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