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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French word of the Day: Mauviette

Are you being called this? It might be time to get a little more domineering.

French word of the Day: Mauviette
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know mauviette?

Well hopefully you won't, but if someone flings this at you then it's as well to know what they're talking about.

What does it mean?

It means wimp, sissy, weakling. As those translations suggest it's a bit of a playground insult, but it does have some other uses as well.

So if you're feeling a little childish you could say Quelle mauviette! Il a peur des serpents – What a wimp! He's afraid of snakes

Or more usefully you could ask your dentist Puis-je avoir un analgésique? Je suis une vraie mauviette en ce qui concerne la douleur – Can I have some painkiller? I'm a real wuss about pain.

If you're trying to goad a friend into joining you for that bungee jump you could say Si tu es une mauviette, dis-moi… Look, if you're too much of a sissy, just tell me.

Or you could tell someone – either in all seriousness or more playfully with a twinkle in your eye (and perhaps a whip in your hand) – Tu es une honte, une mauviette! – You're a disgrace, a weakling!

Any other options?

Yes, the chicken's international reputation for cowardice has also reached France so une poule mouillée (wet hen) is a common insult for the cowardly and un froussad is another common word for a wimp.

If you want to be a little more formal in your judgements un lâche is a coward and cowardly behaviour is comportement lâche.

 

 

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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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