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French word of the day: Hopla!

It’s one of those oh-so-French sounds that occasionally pops up in France.

French word of the day: Hopla!

Why do I need to know hopla?

If you have lived in France for a while, you will have noticed a fair few French words that are really more sounds than words – things like pfff, bah, oh là là or miam. These sounds are deeply integrated in a French person’s everyday vocabulary, are loaded with meaning and will really give your language that casual, conversational feel.

Hopla is another of these frequently used sounds. 

What does it mean?

Pronounced with a silent h, a sharp p and a lingering a, hopla (also spelled hop-là), hopla is a way of bringing attention to what you do.

It does however have slightly different meanings depending on the context.

You might have heard a waiter say hopla as he puts your plate down. In this case it's like saying voilà – there you go. 

It can also mean attention, or oops. 

Let’s say that you bump into a stranger on the street. By exclaiming hopla, you alert the other person that this was an accident and you did not intend to be rude – nor do you accuse them of being the one responsible for the accidental bumping. Here, hopla is a disarmer.

Other variants

Hop is a word French people use for encouragement, like 'come on' or 'go!'.

Picture a swimming class where the participants are supposed to dive in one after the other. The teacher will say et hop ! – And go! – between each participant.

A mother might tell her teenager son Allez-hop! On range – Come on, let's clean up. 

If you hear hop hop hop, it means you're in trouble.

Someone could say this to you today if you tried to snatch a piece of the special Galette de Rois before the person hiding under the table had decided who would get the piece. Confused? Read this to learn about the peculiar French tradition.

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For members


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).