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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: avoir la niaque

For a start, it sounds nice: there's something zingy about the sound 'niaque' that just rattles off the tongue when you say it. And that's exactly what it means.

French Expression of the Day: avoir la niaque
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know avoir la niaque?
 
French people use this colloquial word quite often and the more you use it the better, because it means that you're full of beans.
 
What does it mean?
 
Avoir la niaque means to be lively, determined or full of energy as in:
 
J'ai bien dormi, j'ai la niaque! — I had a good night's sleep and I feel great!
 
or
 
Sur un terrain, j'ai la niaque, mais je ne suis pas une brute. — On the pitch, I'm full of energy, but I'm not a brute (ex-football champion Zindane told Le Parisien in a recent interview).
 
or
 
Ce joueur est trop mou, il n'a pas la niaque — This player is too slow, he's not lively enough!
 
Where does it come from?
 
According to the respected Larousse French dictionary, niaque originates from the word gnaque in the Gascon dialect (from the region of Gascogny in southwestern France) meaning bite.
 
Its use was then extended in French slang to mean to 'have bite' (which is where the 'zingy' comes in!).
 
How do I use niaque?
 
It is used with the verb avoir (to have):
 
J'ai la niaque! — I'm full of beans!
 
Ces jeunes ont la niaque, ils ont envie de réussir — These young people are very determined, they want to succeed.
 
L'équipe française de rugby n'arrête pas de perdre, elle n'a plus la niaque — the French rugby team keeps losing, it no longer has what it takes.
 
What about alternatives?
 
A couple of good alternatives in French that are also used with the verb avoir are avoir la pêche and avoir la patate. Again they mean roughly the same thing: being up for it, on form etc.
 
 
 
 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

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. 

Alternatives

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).

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