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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Bon chic bon genre

While 'Bon chic bon genre' may sound like the supreme French expression to describe class and style, there is actually a little more to it than you think.

French Expression of the Day: Bon chic bon genre

Why do I need to know bon chic bon genre?

This expression is widely used in France to describe a particular type of clothing or some people's attitude.

What does it mean?

Bon chic bon genre, which can also be shortened to BCBG, is the French version of posh, preppie or Sloaney – ''Good style, good class''.

While chic can be quite of a compliment on its own, the expression bon chic bon genre tends to be used to describe and stereotype people from the bourgeoisie who try too hard to maintain a certain image of their life and themselves. While this is not an insult, this is also rarely used as a compliment, so beware.

For a French to describe someone as BCBG, they would most certainly have to wear at least one of these items on a day-to-day basis: a pearl necklace, an emblematic silk scarf from the high-end fashion brand Hermes or a three-piece suit.

Here is an example of how you could use this expression: Je ne vais pas acheter cette robe, elle fait trop bon chic bon genre! – I'm not going to buy this dress, it is way too posh!

In the collective imagination, it is also common to associate the expression with hyphenated first names such as Charles-Henri or Marie-Francoise and more generally to traditional Catholic culture and strict education.

BCBG in French popular culture

In the 1990s, French humor trio Les Inconnus even recorded a song entitled ''Rap BCBG'' or ''Auteuil, Neuilly, Passy'', which are regarded as a triangle of posh Parisian neighborhoods where the BCBG tend to congregate, to mock people living in these areas and their supposedly complicated life.

 
 
This single was one of the biggest hits of the year 1991 and remains to this day a reference in French humor, so don't be surprised if you ever hear a local jokingly hum the song.
 
For more French phrases, check out our word of the day section.

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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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