Appuyer sur le champignon
Do you often dream of stepping on the gas when you drive? Then this common vegetable expression is for you. It litterally translates as pressing the mushroom and means to accelerate, to speed up.
While we often use the expression to describe driving habits, it can also be used in the figurative sense. You may hear it about a sports team stepping up efforts to win, a company ramping up production, or a governing body enacting multiple measures to solve a problem. Taking steps to reach a goal sooner qualifies as pressing the mushroom.
If you'd like to step it up a notch, you would say écraser le champignon - to squash or floor it - or even conduire le champignon au plancher - litterally to drive the mushroom to the floorboard, to floor it.
To understand this mistreatment of mushrooms, we need to take a look at automotive history.
While today's cars come with flat, rectangular pedals, this wasn't always the case. In the early 20th century, most cars came with accélérateurs - gas pedals - that ressembled mushrooms. These curious controls had rounded caps and stems emerging from the floor, much like a fungus. Depressing this pedal with your foot and speeding up was thought of as "pressing the mushroom."
The expression quickly gained popularity and is used to this day, despite the technology of car accelerators having evolved.
The idiom inspired a children's song called Chauffeur, si t'es champion - Driver, if you're a champion. Naturally, it is sung for amusement during long bus rides and tells the driver to press on le champignon if he is a champion.
Tu ferais bien d'appuyer sur le champignon si tu veux arriver à temps!
You'd better speed up if you want to get there in time!
Si on veut battre la concurrence, il est grand temps d'appuyer sur le champignon.
If we want to beat the competition, it's high time to increase efforts.
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