Se monter le bourrichon
"Se monter" means "to wind oneself up," but we're not talking about winding yourself up like a toy robot. We're talking about winding yourself up like a French person who just discovered they're out of cheese. The expression is often used to describe two people or more who are excessively fretting over a somewhat trivial situation and allowing their imagination and concerns to run wild. The phrase uses the reflexive pronoun "se" which indicates that the individuals involved are causing this state of agitation. They are carried away in a whirlwind of emotions and exaggerations and feeding on each other's anxieties, usually over very little. Se monter le bourrichon will translate into getting yourself worked up, or getting all worked up, with a hint of making mountains out of molehills.
And what's a bourrichon, you might ask?
In the olden days, French fishermen used une bourriche to keep their catch of fish fresh. If the bourriche was small, it was called un bourrichon. It was like a round basket where they would store their precious fishy treasure. Nowadays you may still hear the phrase: une bourriche d'huîtres - a basket of oysters - to describe the container used by oyster farmers to carry and sell oysters.
As for the origin of this fishy phrase, it's a bit murky like the depths of the ocean. Perhaps it started with an overly imaginative fisherman who spent too much time alone at sea, He'd let his mind wander, his fishy fantasies grow, and ended up blowing up his own fish basket.
More realistically, however, the bourrichon is merely a metaphor for la tête - the head. We find the first records of the metaphor in the early 19th century. Se monter le bourrichon would therefore simply mean se monter la tête. Both expressions are very similar and refer to people who get all worked up over the tiniest thing. The bourrichon however, offers a more poetic invitation to let the drama float away like a fisherman's tall tale. Life is too short to let goldfish turn into sea monsters.
Ils ont cru que leur vol serait annulé et se sont montés le bourrichon pour rien. En fait, le vol n'avait qu'un peu de retard.
They thought their flight would be canceled and get all worked up over it. It turns out, the flight was just a little late.
Pendant la semaine des examens, les élèves sont à cran et ont tendance à se monter le bourrichon pour des riens.
During exam week, students are on edge and tend to get carried away over nothing.
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