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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French expression of the day: Tête de chien battu

Why, in French, it's hard to say no to a beaten dog.

French expression of the day: Tête de chien battu
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Though this phrase has a close English equivalent, it's just so much more poetic in French

French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Why do I need to know les grands esprits se rencontrent?

Because you might want to use this phrase the next time you and a friend have the same idea for how to spend vacation.

What does it mean?

Les grands esprits se rencontrent – usually pronounced lay grand eh-spreets suh rahn-cahn-truh – literally translates to “the great minds meet each other” or “the great spirits meet each other.” More appropriately, the very poetic phrase in French translates to the English expression “great minds think alike.” 

For the French phrase, it actually finds its origins with Voltaire. In 1760, he wrote a letter to another well-known French writer at the time and included the phrase: “Les beaux esprits se rencontrent” (the beautiful minds meet each other) to emphasise the fact that both expressed the same idea at the same time.

Over time, the phrase switched from ‘beautiful’ minds to ‘great’ minds, but the meaning remains the same. The phrase is usually said ironically in French, and can be used more or less interchangeably with the English version of this expression (which curiously has different origins altogether). However, sadly, the French version does not include the snarky reply: “and fools seldom differ” 

Use it like this

J’avais envie de pizza pour le dîner mais je lui ai demandé ce qu’il voulait quand même et il a dit pizza. Les grands esprits se rencontrent ! – I was wanting pizza for dinner, but I asked him what he wanted anyways, and he said pizza. Great minds think alike!

Nous pensons tous deux que la vue de Paris depuis le Belvédère de Belleville est la meilleure de la ville. Les grands esprits se rencontrent. – We both think that the view of Paris from Belvédère de Belleville is the best of the city. Great minds think alike.

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