Chercher midi à quatorze heures

Welcome back to “Expressions bien de chez nous”. Today we bring to you a new expression and since we don’t want to “Chercher midi à quatorze heures”, we’re going to start with revealing the meaning of this turn of phrase.

What does it mean?

“Chercher” means to search for, “midi” is noon and “quatorze heures” is 2 p.m but in 24h format. So, as you may have figured it, this expression means to look for something where we for sure know it is not. In other words, it is to futilely turn something very simple into something complicated, to look for trouble where there isn’t one. 

The history of this expression

In the XVI century, people used the expression “chercher midi à onze heures” before it changed into the current form one century later.It became very popular to the point of naming a Ballet in the Louvre, “Le Ballet des chercheurs de midi à quatorze heures”, back in 1620. In reality, what’s important in this expression is the word “midi”. Indeed, this time of the day was chosen because it is easily identifiable : the sun is at its peak, we get hungry. It’s also the frontier between the morning and the afternoon. In this sense, to look for noon at another time of the day is to really complicate things!

When do we use it?

It is basically used when people overthink, exaggerate and can’t let go of some things. In the next examples, we show you this expressions used for giving advice:

  • Il ne faut pas chercher midi à quatorze heures pour trouver la raison pour laquelle les projets d’infrastructures tardent à être annoncés. (You shouldn’t complicate things to find the reason why the infrastructure projects announcements are delayed.)
  • Vous savez, dans un tableau, il ne faut pas chercher midi à quatorze heures. (You know, in a painting, you shouldn’t do things the hard way.)

And you, do you often “cherches midi à quatorze heures”? Do you know an equivalent expression in your language(s)? Thanks for sharing!

By Ingrid Hernandez

We have set up some quizzes so that you can better understand this expression. Just click below to access these quizzes.