Every language has its quirks, and each culture has its idioms that reflect its thinking or its history. For an English speaker, the French expression “ne pas être sorti de l’auberge” is an amusing curiosity.
Dictionaries give its meaning as “not to have finished with difficulties”. The literal translation, however, is “not to have left the inn”.
Surely, an inn, like its cousins the hotel and the B&B, is somewhere welcoming, somewhere you’d want to stay.
When you realise that the word ‘auberge’ is slang for prison, it all starts to make sense. Although it provides a roof over the head of prisoners, a prison is never going to be the easiest place to be.
Perhaps, then, the closest English translation of this idiom is “not to be out of the woods yet”.
Now all I need to do is actually use it in conversation. Like repeating someone’s name when you meet them, that will show that I’ve truly taken it on board.