French Word of the Day: ben

Is your name 'Ben'? If it is, no doubt you've already experienced some confusion over today's word of the day.

French Word of the Day: ben
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Why do I need to know ben?

This is one of those French words that you're unlikely to be taught in school and it can really throw a spanner into the works when people start using it in informal conversations. 

And if your name is 'Ben' then you're even more likely to be confused… particularly when you see it written down. 

What does it mean?

The main translation for Ben isn't exactly a word.

The equivalent in English would be 'er' as in the noise you make when hesitating or playing for time at the beginning of a sentence. 

For example, Et tu sais à quelle heure revient ton frère?Ben, j'en sais rien. (And do you know what time your brother got home? – Er, I don't know anything).

If you're surprised it can also mean 'well'. 

Or, J'ai gagné €10,000  à un jeu à gratter! – Eh ben, t'en as, de la chance! (I won €10,000 on a scratchcard game! – Well, you're lucky!)

It can also translate to 'of course', such as Et tu vas à l'anniversaire de Pascal samedi? – Ben oui! (And you're coming to Pascal's birthday on Saturday? – Of course!)

You could also say Ben ça alors! to mean 'well, well, well!'


It is likely to be particularly confusing to people called 'Ben' when written down because when spoken it actually sounds slightly different to the name.

The vowel is usually slightly dragged out to indicate the hesitation when you're using it to mean 'er' whereas when the French say the name Ben the 'e' is fairly short. 

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French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Being patronised by a Frenchman? Roll out this phrase.

French phrase of the Day: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines

Why do I need to know ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines?

Because someone might be trying to take you for a fool.

What does it mean?

Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines – pronounced ne me pren pah pour un lapan de see sem-enn – translates as ‘don’t take me for a six-week-old rabbit’, and is a go-to phrase to warn people not to mistake you for a fool, someone who doesn’t understand what’s going on.

The podcast Hit West from French regional newspaper Ouest-France suggests that the ‘six weeks’ comes from the age a rabbit is weaned at, and must therefore be ready to survive on its own.

And why a rabbit at all? Well no-one really seems very sure. Rabbits don’t get a good rap in the French language though, to stand someone up is poser un lapin in French.

English-language metaphor equivalents may be, “I didn’t come down in the last shower”, “I wasn’t born yesterday”, or, as Line of Duty’s DCI Hastings might say, “I didn’t float up the Lagan in a bubble”.

Use it like this

Honestly, keep it simple. If someone’s speaking to you in a patronising manner, simply say: Ne me prends pas pour un lapin de six semaines.

Ouest France suggests that this is the ‘more elegant’ way to request that people don’t take you for a fool. It’s not offensive, but it might be a little old-fashioned. 


You can use the more basic version of this phrase – Ne me prends pas pour une idiote (don’t take me for a fool) or the slightly more punchy Ne me prends pas pour un con (don’t take me for a moron).