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In French, we have this saying "Les carottes sont cuites", meaning "It's too late we can't do anything anymore" or "It's over for him" (He's dead) depending on the context.

The literal translation would be "The carrots are cooked", but I don't think it has a specific meaning in English.

I'm actually writing a short and silly story about how a fruit committed a hate crime on carrots, who are vegetables, and was planning to write this story in both English and French. If I can twist/find the goofy references on themselves the fruits would make in their dialogs in both languages, I have yet to find an expression in English that would mean "He is/They are dead" that would contain a vegetable reference, and it doesn't especially have to be carrots.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Jul 17 at 1:27
  • What about word play with "squash"? – UnhandledExcepSean Jul 17 at 19:51
  • Funny enough, in German it is the cheese is eaten... and english he bought the farm is probably too far from your desired vegetables reference. – Aganju Jul 17 at 20:03
  • Squish, just like grape. – jxh Jul 17 at 20:44
  • @Aganju A (probably southern german) one is "der Bär is g'schält", meaning the bear's hide has come off and been distributed, nothing left for late-comers. :-) – Karl Jul 17 at 20:56

13 Answers 13

76

Although this isn't about vegetables specifically, I'm going to add it anyway—just so it doesn't get lost if comments are removed:

His goose is cooked.

From Wiktionary's entry for goose is cooked:

(idiomatic) All hope is gone; there is no possibility of success; the period of good fortune is over.

      If he doesn't win the next round, then his goose is cooked.

My personal experience with this idiom is that it can not only imply just bad fortune, but also terminal fortune.


Of course, a more generalized idiom, which doesn't carry quite the same specific weight—and which also doesn't mention vegetables explicitly (but could still imply them), is out of the frying pan into the fire:

[Wikipedia]
The phrase out of the frying pan into the fire is used to describe the situation of moving or getting from a bad or difficult situation to a worse one, often as the result of trying to escape from the bad or difficult one. It was the subject of a 15th-century fable that eventually entered the Aesopic canon.

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    Your answer takes the cake. :^) – puppetsock Jul 15 at 16:39
  • When I'd read the question these came to mind so perfect. But as far as the OP requires, these phrases are so well known that following a parallel structure would make clear to most audiences what is meant. And even for those who are not acquainted, the inference would likely be correct. I've seen "his goose is cooked" also as his goose *was* cooked. As in "... and with that his goose was cooked". But I think the expression would hold with: "... and with that his carrot was cooked!" which I suppose in your story would be literal. And _out of the X and into the Y. Would be understood. – Quaternion Jul 15 at 18:48
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    @Quaternion I think keeping the plural of the French would be better if translating directly, even if the goose is singular. “His carrot is cooked” sounds a bit too much like euphemistically genital cannibalism for my taste, where “his carrots are cooked” doesn’t, but is still easily guessable. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 15 at 21:21
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    "Terminal fortune" is my new favorite idiom. – Robert Wolfe Jul 16 at 17:47
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    “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” is not equivalent at all, and its inclusion here detracts from an otherwise-excellent answer. If you insist on keeping it, I think it deserves far stronger warning that it is covering a different situation—though of course, that would make readers wonder why it is here, which they should. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” applies when the solution to a dire problem has caused an even-worse problem—but it doesn’t necessarily mean there is no chance for resolving the worse problem the way the question requests. Quite simply not the same. – KRyan Jul 18 at 13:45
27

You could say, "Stick a fork in him, he's done" -- which is an analogy to baked potatoes that would be commonly understood to mean that the subject is dead or otherwise expired, in North America at least -- not sure if this expression is good on both sides of the Atlantic though.

  • I’m very familiar with this expression, but honestly I had no idea it was specific to potatoes; in my mind, it could refer to any number of cooked items that are eaten with a fork. Interesting. – KRyan Jul 18 at 13:48
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    I'm British and had never heard this. – Rand al'Thor Jul 18 at 14:05
23

The phrase that comes to my mind is:

He's had his chips

From Farlex Dictionary of Idioms:

To be defeated; to fail completely; to die or be killed.

Now, being British, to me "chips" are what others may call "fries" (think of them as in "fish and chips"). A potato is technically a vegetable, even if it doesn’t count as one nutritionally. Chips come with a main meal, like (cooked) carrots.

Sadly, in this phrase "chips" actually refers to casino tokens, but never let pedantry get in the way of a good pun!

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    Is this a British expression? I've never heard it in America. But it seems to be related to "the chips are down". – Barmar Jul 15 at 18:47
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    @JasonBassford Yes, that's what it means in some contexts. But not in idioms like "throw in your chips", "the chips are down", "chip in" -- these all stem from betting chips, not potato chips. – Barmar Jul 15 at 19:18
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    @Barmar The context here is a story about "how a fruit committed a hate crime on carrots." I don't see how it could be misunderstood . . . – Jason Bassford Jul 15 at 19:51
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    I see, you're suggesting that this would be a pun where the alternate vegetable reference would be noticed. – Barmar Jul 15 at 19:54
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    A potato is (and is technically) a vegetable. – Strawberry Jul 15 at 21:19
11

Translation is equally strange and challenging. It is also controversial. How far do you depart from the original language in order to accommodate the idiomatic flavour of the 'target' language. So in part it is a matter of ideology. If a story starts out as French and comes from that point of view, then I should argue that in the translation, there is merit in preserving a flavour of (in this case) the Frenchness of the story.

In your case, for example, "his carrots are cooked" will work fine. So long as you provide a context in which the point of your jeu de mots is clear, an anglophone reader will get it, and learn something into the bargain. There is a novel by the journalist, Gilles Paris, called L'autobiographie d'une Courgette, about a young boy with the nickname 'Aubergine' which is full of this sort of thing, because the boy keeps on getting the wrong end of the stick (and how would you put that in French?). So the nine-year-old boy's single mother is constantly muttering bitterly about her husband, Courgette's father, who apparently has run off with the next door neighbour's wife, to whom she refers as "la poule au voisin" (literally, "the neighbour's hen, except, as you know, 'poule' is also used to mean a whore or 'tart'). Well, Aubergine doesn't understand this and says

...je vois pas pourquoi il aurait emmené une poule au voisin pour faire le tour le monde avec. C'est bête une poule: ça boit la bière que je mélange aux graines et après ça titube jusqu'au mur avant de s'écrouler par terre.

... I can't see why he would have taken one of our neighbour's hens off on a world tour. A hen is stupid. It drinks the beer I mix into its feed and then staggers up to the wall and falls over.

How to translate the word 'hen' in such a case is a challenge. You can use 'bitch', but that is not perfect, unless you translate 'seeds' into 'feed'. There is, I am afraid, no easy way through this.

One author who wrote in both English and French was Samuel Beckett. But he tended to write the two 'from scratch', as I understand it. He did not try to translate in the conventional sense.

There is a notorious and very funny example of this problem in a television play by Tom Stoppard, called Professional Foul. It combines, as Stoppard's plays do, two unlikely groups of people going for an even to the same communist city of Prague: two philosophy lecturers, there for a philosophical colloquium, and two footballers there for a qualifying match. We are given part of one of the lectures, by an American philosopher of the school of linguistic philosophy. He is making a distinction between two senses of the expression to eat well, pointing out that it is ambiguous between: to eat in a well mannered and polite way, or to eat plenty of food. As this dull litany continues, the camera moves to the face of the French simultaneous translator, which is looking more and more puzzled and strained. He says nothing, but his expression says everything ... if you know French!. In French there is no way to translate what the philosopher is rambling on about, because in French there is no ambiguity: manger bien is one thing and bien manger is another.

  • "There is a novel by the journalist, Gilles Paris, called L'autobiographie d'une Augergine, about a young boy with the nickname 'Aubergine' " And there's a further complication that the French word "aubergine" is a cognate for the British word, but American readers would likely be unaware that it means "eggplant". – Acccumulation Jul 15 at 19:02
  • To Accumulation: It's worse than that. For reasons which cannot be understood by anyone that does not know the weird way my brain misfires, I used the word 'aubergine' (as Americans say, 'eggplant'), when the title is 'The Autobiography of a Courgette'. I had better explain that this name/word means 'zucchini'. – Tuffy Jul 15 at 21:13
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    Translating "poule" isn't a major problem. About midway down the list of definitions for "hen" is "a woman". True, you lose the "whore/tart" implication, but it doesn't seem to be critical in this instance. – Mark Jul 16 at 7:06
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    Of course, Mark, you are right. The 'hen party' and the 'hen-pecked' husband are well-known. But neither of these has the bitter overtones that lie behind the angry comments of Courgette's mother. – Tuffy Jul 16 at 8:16
11

There probably isn't anything quite like what you're looking for, unfortunately. A quick perusal of wikipedia's list of death expressions and death euphemisms, as well as a glace at some lists of vegetables to try and jog my memory doesn't yield much - maybe the closest is "brown bread" which while possibly vegetarian, is not quite on the mark and likely not terribly common/well known at any rate.

But honestly, I would strongly recommend that you make up one of your own.

English is a terribly silly language(as are most, in all likelihood), and if you're writing a short silly story, homemade euphemisms will probably go over exceptionally well (depending on execution, of course).

"No! Don't do it!"

There was no trace of the normally rich, velvety baritone - anguish tore through his voice like a grater shredding cheese.

"It's too late, Sergeant Spud. This tater's been mashed."

I am exceptionally sorry for that. Please accept the musical stylings of Kip Addotta as my apology.

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    I also couldn't think of anything that already exists. I agree that making one up is fine. The direct translation from French doesn't have much resonance in English I think. How about "these carrots are juiced" or "that corn is popped". Popped is already slang for killed so it has a couple of levels to it. – Eric Nolan Jul 16 at 11:42
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    @EricNolan "These carrots are juiced" sounds awesome, and is exactly the type of translation I might expect in a video game if the "carrots" part was integral to the line. – trlkly Jul 16 at 13:50
  • I also actually adore "these taters are mashed" if it needs to just stay veggies. I could actually hear it being some sort of Southern/hillbilly exclamation. – trlkly Jul 16 at 13:53
10

The fruits could make mincemeat of the carrots. Misleadingly, nowadays mincemeat refers to cut, dried fruit, not meat. Although it typically refers to fruit, it's not inconceivable someone could include carrots in a dish of mincemeat.

7

be toast TFD

To be in serious trouble; to be ruined, finished, or defeated.

If mom and dad find out we took their car out last night, we're toast!

Down by 45 points with only two minutes left in the game, it's pretty safe to say that the home team is toast at this point.

6

It is not dead-dead, but brain dead is "he'll be a vegetable the rest of his life"

2

There's also Stick a Fork In It

A common idiom that’s used to point out that someone or something is finished, or done.

Example: A man named Gilbert went to the gym. After 40 minutes of working out, he was exhausted and ready to go home. Thus, someone might say concerning Gilbert, “stick a fork in him, he’s done.”

1

Ok just for the pun of it!

"an expression in English that would mean "He is/They are dead" that would contain a vegetable reference, and it doesn't especially have to be carrots."

What about

I think it's dicing with death, to suggest they may get the chop.

1

There is a general purpose idiom for saying someone has died.

He's gone to the great ______ in the sky.

This means that the subject in now in heaven. The beauty here is that you can fill in the blank as appropriate. So something like this would be perfectly idiomatic:

He's gone to the great vegetable patch in the sky.

0

There is a list of existing idioms for dead here.

From that list, some ones of note (none explicitly about veggies)

  • At Peace (At peas)
  • Bite the big one
  • Cash in one's chips (technically poker chips, but food chips are made from veggies)
  • Live on the farm (there are many farm ones)
  • Taking a dirt nap
-1

He'll be "pushing up the daisies" (meaning dead and buried).

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    Daisies are not vegetables.... – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Jul 16 at 2:59
  • Daisies are definitely vegetables, in that they are not animals, minerals, or even fungi. They just aren't good to eat. – nigel222 Jul 17 at 13:27
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    Personally, depending upon how the OP is able to mangle the context, I think this may be the best answer here. Whilst not being a vegetable (in the food sense), given that we're talking about sentient plant life, maybe daisies would count as well...? – Lefty Jul 18 at 6:48

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