French Expression of the Day: Poser un lapin

Do you have unreliable friends? Or perhaps you are the flaky one? Either way, you might need this. Spoiler: It has nothing to do with cute furry animals.

French Expression of the Day: Poser un lapin

Why do I need to know poser un lapin? 

If you often leave your friends hanging, then don't be surprised if the next time you see them, they ask you why you poser un lapin

So what does it mean?

Poser un lapin literally means to ‘put down a rabbit’ but the expression has nothing to do with the furry animal but more with the action of not showing up to a meeting without telling anyone.  

The equivalent expression in English would be to stand someone up. 

J’avais rendez-vous avec une fille que j’ai rencontré sur une appli de rencontre mais elle m’a posé un lapin! I was meant to go on a date with a girl I met on a dating site but she stood me up!

Je n’y crois pas, c’est la troisième fois qu’on essaye d’aller au cinéma cette semaine, mais à chaque fois il me pose un lapin! I can’t believe it, this is the third time that we tried going to the movies this week but each time he’s stood me up.  

But where does it come from?

The choice of word rabbit goes back to ancient times when this animal was synonym of abundance. In the 19th century, poser un lapin meant leaving without paying for the favours of a woman, according to French author Georges Planelles in his book The 1001 favourite expressions of the French. With time, the meaning evolved and became the one we know today. 

Looking for more French expressions? See our word of the day section on our website

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

You might do this while gardening or while reading the tabloids.

French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

Why do I need to know découvrir le pot aux roses?

Because if you enjoy celebrity gossip, then you probably will find good use for this phrase

What does it mean?

Découvrir le pot aux roses – pronounced day-coov-rear le pot-oh rose – literally translates to ‘to discover the pot of roses.’ 

You might use this expression when finding out about some exciting gossip or maybe when discovering what your partner secretly planned for your anniversary, as this phrase in actuality is what you would say when you learn something secret or hidden. 

In English, when discussing secrets, you might say someone has ‘spilled the beans’ or ‘let the cat out of the bag,’ but the French phrase is more about the person who has found out about the hidden item or truth, not the person who told it, as it ‘spill the beans’.

The origins of this French expression are not what you might expect, historically, the phrase has little to do with the flowers.

During the Middle Ages, the verb ‘découvrir’ had the meaning of ‘to lift a lid’ and at the time the phrase ‘pot aux roses’ referred to a small box that wealthy women used to store their perfumes, as well as their makeup. They often used these boxes to keep secrets, letters, or notes that they did not want others to stumble upon.

Use it like this

Pendant l’afterwork, Sarah a raconté à tout le monde les secrets les plus fous sur la vie privée du patron. Je ne comprends pas comment elle a réussi à découvrir le pot aux roses. – During the work happy hour, Sarah told us all about the wildest secrets of our boss’ personal life. I don’t understand how she managed to unearth that gossip.

Il a découvert le pot aux roses lorsqu’il s’est connecté à l’ordinateur de son colocataire pour regarder simplement son mail. – He discovered the secret when he logged onto his roommate’s laptop to just check his email.