All about the French expression "Tu as un poil dans la main"

We are going to explain you everything you have to know about the basic French idiom “Tu as un poil dans la main”.

More precisely, it includes a full guide of what it is and how to use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. Together with the cool informations we sprinkled like dialogue example, slow pronunciation audio, literal meaning and more!

Oh and if you want, you will find more idioms tutorials like this one on this page and all our pages about French words on this page. Wish you a happy learning!

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French to English translation

How to pronounce it

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean?


  • Avoir un poil → To have a hair
  • Dans la main → In the hand

You might think: “How did this expression end up meaning you are lazy?“.

Simple, let’s imagine someone so lazy that he/she is never using his/her hands. Then, just like nature coming back in abandoned cities, the hairs would start to grow up, claiming back their untouched territory.

Another theory is that, if you lend a hair to someone very lazy (a very common situation indeed). They will keep it in their hand and use it as an excuse for not doing anything else, because they “can’t“.

How to use it

Instead of just saying “You are lazy“, you can add some fun and color to your sentence by saying “Tu as un poil dans la main.” (You have a hair on your hand).

This is a very informal idiom, so use it only with friends and relatives, ideally not at work since people might not appreciate it…

Below, you will find some variations in case you need more details.

Fun facts

If the person is extremely lazy, you can use “Tu as un baobab dans la main.” (You have a baobab on your hand).

If this is your case, take care of it and don’t forget that a healthy baobab needs daily sun and fresh water.


  • Avoir un baobab dans la main. (“Have a baobab on your hand“)
  • Avoir un palmier dans la main. (“Have a palm tree on your hand“)
  • Avoir une queue de vache dans la main. (“Have a cow’s tail in your hand“)
  • J’ai un poil dans la main. (“I have a hair in the hand“)
  • Il a un poil dans la main. (“He has a hair in his hand“)
  • Elle a un poil dans la main. (“She has a hair in her hand“)
  • Vous avez un poil dans la main. (“You have a hair in your hand“)(More polite)

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.
L'importance de la communication
The importance of communication
En général, les week-ends, Olivia nettoie tout l’appartement.
Usually, on weekends, Olivia cleans the whole apartment.
Ce week-end, c’est ce qu’elle fait.
This weekend, that’s what she’s doing.
Et elle voit Théo assis sur le canapé, qui regarde son smartphone…
And she sees Théo sitting on the couch, looking at his smartphone…
Olivia:   J’ai besoin de ton aide…
I need your help…
Théo:   Bien sûr, j’arrive dans cinq minutes.
Of course, I’m coming in five minutes.
Trente minutes plus tard, Olivia revient voir Théo…
Thirty minutes later, Olivia comes back to see Théo…
Il est toujours assis sur le canapé…
He’s still sitting on the couch…
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