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French word of the day – Gâté

What could French football star Kylian Mbappé possibly have in common with a whining child?

French word of the day - Gâté

Why do I need to know gâté?

If you have or are planning to have children in France, you will want to avoid them becoming it.

What does it mean?

Gâté comes from the verb gâter, which means ‘to spoil’ [someone].

Gâter quelqu’un – to spoil someone 

If your French boyfriend texts je vais te gâter ce soir (‘I’m going to spoil you tonight), it’s a green light to start fantasising about flowers, chocolate or a home cooked meal.

If you do come home to one of the three above (or any other surprise), you could exclaim:

Mais tu me gâtes! – You’re spoiling me!

Which is a way of expressing that you appreciate the gesture.

In this case, it’s about being spoiled:

Être gâté – to be spoiled 

Enfant gaté 

So as you see, gâter can be a good thing, but – like spoiled – it has a bad side too.

A common expression in France is enfant gâté, 'spoiled child'.

Son fils est tellement gâté, c'est abusé! – Their son is so spoiled, it's horrendous

Je ne supporte pas des enfants gâtés qui pleurent tout le temps – I can't deal with spoiled children who cry all the time

But enfant gâté is a label not necessarily reserved for children.

French football start Kylian Mbappé has been called enfant gâté several times. 

French World Cup hero Kylian Mbappé. Photo: AFP

Here in a headline of an article published by Breizh, a news website in Brittany:

Un an après son titre mondial : Mbappé, l’enfant gâté du foot français – One year after the World Cup title: Mbappé, the spoiled child of French football.

Here by Christophe Bourgois-Costantini, a French football coach, during a televised debate on the French sports channel RMC:

'Mbappé number 10? I think that's the whims of a spoiled child.




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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).