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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Word of the Day: or

So many meanings, so little time. Do you know all the ways the word 'or' can be used in French?

French Word of the Day: or
Photo: Depositphotos

Why do I need to know or?

Or might be a short word but it encompasses a whole variety of meanings – many of which you're likely to hear on a daily basis in France. 

One thing's for sure, it doesn't mean the same thing it does in English. 

So, what does it mean?

Firstly, the noun or means gold. 

So you could say, Le cours de l'or est très haut actuellement. – 'The price of gold is very high at the moment.' 

It can also be used as an adjective without any changes to its spelling. 

For example, Le silence est d'or. – 'Silence is golden.'

However it can also be used in place for several conjunctions in English, such as but, yet and well and now. 

So, you could say: Il voulait que je lui raconte tout. Or, je ne savais rien. – He wanted me to tell him everything, but I knew nothing.
 
Or you could say, S'il lui était arrivé quelque chose, il m'aurait appelé. Or, il ne l'a pas fait. Donc, ça veut dire que rien ne lui est arrivé. – If something had happened to him, he would have called me. Well, he hasn't called, so that means nothing has happened to him.
 
Another way of using or would be: Il était sûr de gagner, or il a perdu. — 'He was sure he would win, and yet he lost.'
 
 

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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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