French expression of the day: Tête de chien battu

French expression of the day: Tête de chien battu
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Why, in French, it's hard to say no to a beaten dog.

Why do I need to know tête de chien battu?

Because the real meaning is really different from the literal translation. Plus it's one of the gazillion French animal-based expressions that are good to know.

What does it mean?

Tête de chien battu literally translates to ‘beaten dog face', but, don't worry, it really has nothing to do with violence against four-legged friends.

The expression is similar to when some Americans say a 'whipped hound', which means making a sad face that invites empathy.

An English equivalent is 'puppy dog eyes', which means making big eyes or taking on a sad expression to apologise for something – or to get what you want.

In fact, you can say un regard de chien battu, which means 'a look of a beaten dog', which is very close to 'puppy eyes'.

Whatever the occasion, a chien battu invites empathy and compassion, because the idea is that you look at a chien battu and feel sorry for them.

Use it like this

Il a fait sa tête de chien battu pour avoir une glace et je n'ai pas pu resister.. –  He did his puppy eyes to get an ice cream and I couldn't resist..

Je lui ai dit combien ça m’a énervé alors il s'est excusé en faisant une tête de chien battu. – I told him how much it annoyed me so he immediately made a sad face and said he was sorry.

Tu sais, elle a fait son regard de chien battu habituel, donc j’ai cédé. – You know, she made her usual puppy eyes so I gave in.


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