One entertaining aspect of learning French is discovering the many colorful idiomatic expressions that have no direct equivalent in English. One such example is “boutonner le dimanche avec le lundi,” which translates literally as “to button Sunday with Monday.”
Definition & Meaning
This expression refers to buttoning a shirt incorrectly by mismatching the buttons with the wrong buttonholes. It implies making an obvious mistake in sequencing or order. The metaphor comes from teaching children the days of the week using a button-down shirt, with each day corresponding to a button position.
So if you say “Il a boutonné le dimanche avec le lundi”, it means “He buttoned his shirt incorrectly, mismatching Sunday with Monday.” By extension, it can also imply that someone is badly or mismatchedly dressed.
There are many variations on this expression using different pairs of days of the week. Some examples are:
- Boutonner mardi avec mercredi (to button Tuesday with Wednesday)
- Attacher jeudi avec vendredi (to attach Thursday with Friday)
- Confondre samedi et dimanche (to confuse Saturday and Sunday)
Examples of “Boutonner le dimanche avec le lundi”
1. Tu as boutonné le dimanche avec le lundi ce matin ! Ta chemise est toute de travers. (You buttoned Sunday with Monday this morning! Your shirt is all crooked.)
2. Fais attention en t’habillant, on dirait que tu as boutonné le dimanche avec le lundi. (Be careful when getting dressed, it looks like you’ve buttoned Sunday with Monday.)
3. Les boutons de sa chemise étaient attachés n’importe comment, il avait clairement boutonné le dimanche avec le lundi. (The buttons on his shirt were fastened every which way, he had clearly buttoned Sunday with Monday.)
4. Ce pantalon ne va pas avec ce haut, c’est comme si tu avais boutonné le dimanche avec le lundi ! (Those pants don’t match with that shirt, it’s like you buttoned Sunday with Monday!)
5. Le pauvre était tellement pressé ce matin qu’il a boutonné le dimanche avec le lundi. (The poor guy was in such a hurry this morning that he buttoned Sunday with Monday.)
So the next time you see a French person with mismatched clothing, feel free to jokingly tell them “On dirait que tu as boutonné le dimanche avec le lundi !” (It looks like you buttoned Sunday with Monday!). This expression will let them know you’re already learning French like a native.