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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French expression of the day: Tomber dans le panneau

Don't fall into the trap of not knowing this one!

French expression of the day: Tomber dans le panneau
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know tomber dans le panneau?

Because if a French person says you've done this, then it's not good.

What does it mean?

It means to fall into a trap, so it's a synonym for the more literal expression tomber dans le piège or se faire piéger (to be trapped). More simply, it can be used to mean fall for something such as a scam, a trick or a practical joke (such as the annual poisson d'avril). 

 

What's the story behind it?

While your French dictionary will tell you that panneau means sign or panel, its use here refers to something else.

Back in the olden days, probably as far back as medieval times, a panneau was net or fabric which was stretched by hunters over the trails made by wild animals like rabbits in order to catch them, so it's easy to see where the phrase comes from. 

Use it like this

Je lui ai expliqué que je n'ai aucune intention de tomber dans le panneau –   I explained to him I have no intention of falling into the trap

On ne voudrait pas que d’autres gens tombent dans le panneau – We wouldn't want other people to fall for it 

 

 

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

A daube is a delicious and hearty French stew - but this expression is not something that you would aspire to.

French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

Why do I need to know c’est de la daube?

Because you might want to express your strong opinion on a movie/book/TV show you’ve just watched in informal but relatively polite society.

What does it mean?

C’est de la daube  – pronounced say de la dorb – translates as ‘it’s a piece of crap’ (rubbish, while a perfectly reasonable alternative, just doesn’t quite cut it) and is perfect for use in discussions about books, films and TV shows … there’s even a book about cinema called C’est de la daube (Chroniques de cinéma)

The phrase can also be used to describe things that have little value and can be discarded after use – or, basically, anything you want to describe as ‘crap’.

Famously, daube is a classic Provençal stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence, and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan. The question, then, is how a delicious and hearty stew came to be used to describe something cheap and nasty and best avoided.

It’s thought that this phrase has its origins in the kitchen. According to Gaston Esnault in his “dictionnaire des argots”, ‘daube’ in this less-savoury context is a 19th-century word of Lyon origin to describe fruits and meat as being ‘spoiled’, applied to fruits and meats.

Notoriously, French programmers who like the Linux system often refer to Windows as Windaube…

Use it like this

C’est de la daube cette film – it’s crap, this film

Ton opinion, c’est de la daube – your opinion is rubbish

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