I'm looking for an English equivalent of the French expression “métro-boulot-dodo”. A word-for-word translation is “underground(subway)-job-sleep”. The overall idea is to describe the monotonous routine of a life with nothing beyond working, sleeping, and the minimum transition between the two. Is there a word or informal phrase that is used for this in English?


The daily grind is another expression, and one that can, I think, encapsulate both work and the commute to and from. As per Oxford Living Dictionaries:

daily grind

NOUN informal

A daily routine of work or activity, especially as considered to be dull or tiresomely repetitious; the usual day's work or routine, regarded as unremitting and laborious.

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  • Yes, this is at least the actual idea. – Lambie Dec 30 '17 at 17:32

One similar phrase in English is: work, eat, sleep, repeat.

The term dodo means to sleep: faire dodo. That is all it means here.

The French expression includes the subway, which the English does not.

However, the English expression is the same as the French contextually.

Just doing one's routine of getting up, working, eating, sleeping and repeating the cycle is indeed boring.....

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  • ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’ as the old jingle used to go. – Mari-Lou A Dec 30 '17 at 17:21
  • Very funny old Cleese. At least it sounds like him. I had never paid attention to candy names, especially, then I started actually reading them. There are some really wacky ones.... – Lambie Dec 30 '17 at 17:38

humdrum existence; humdrum from Oxford Dictionaries:

Lacking excitement or variety; boringly monotonous.

‘humdrum routine work’

One can also speak of same old same old, from Cambridge Dictionary:

[same old same old is] used to say that a situation or someone's behaviour remains the same, especially when it is boring or annoying:

Most people just keep on doing the same old same old every day.

Example (made up) using both:

I don't have a life, I have a humdrum existence -- nothing but the same old same old every day, day after day after day.

According to the first reference, humdrum dates from the middle of the 16th century. According to The Grammarist, same old same old did not appear until the 1970s and the origin is unclear. It may have come from pidgin English spoken in Japan Post WWII or Korea in the Korean War.

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    This answer is not the correct register or style. Humdrum work routine is not what the French means at all. It is not the work routine that is humdrum, it is a life made up of nothing more than going to work on public transport, working and then going home and sleeping. – Lambie Dec 30 '17 at 17:31

Something I hear in the same context would be "Another day, another dollar". Highlights the monotony of the work-commute-sleep routine.

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