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French expression of the day: Ta mère

This is a common French expression, but one we recommend you know, rather than show.

French expression of the day: Ta mère
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know ta mère?

Because if you spend some time in France you will undoubtedly come across someone bellowing this at some point and it's nice to know they're not actually calling for their mama (or yours). 

What does it mean?

Ta mère, which directly translates as 'your mother', is a colloquial slang insult in France, which means 'screw you', 'fuck you' or 'piss off'.

'Your mother' or 'yo mamma' exists in many languages, and is not a nice thing to say, but the French variant is very common here in France.

The full – and more vulgar – expression is nique ta mère (screw your mother), which basically is the English equivalent of 'go fuck yourself'.

Even if ta mère is not actually hitting out at the mother mentioned (she's more like linguistic collateral damage), it's extremely rude and derogatory towards women.

Therefore this might fall into the category of 'know it, don't show it' – something that is useful to know but we wouldn't recommend using.

Sa mère (their mother) is another variant of ta mère, which is more general and can mean simply 'shit' or 'fuck', or be directed at someone who is not present.

READ ALSO: Getting explicit: Your guide to how to swear like a French person

There's a wonderful French comedy called Neuilly sa mère ! (Fucking Neuilly), about a young boy called Sami who has to move from his impoverished Parisian banlieue to the wealthy, snobbish suburb of Neuilly.

Use it like this

This expression is obviously very much a swearword and the examples below just meant to give you an idea of what it means.

Ta mère ! – Son of a bitch!

La pandémie coronavirus sa mère ! J'en peux plus de gestes barrières.. – This bloody coronavirus pandemic! I'm sick of health rules..

Sa mère, qu'est-ce qu'il est interminable janvier. – Bloody hell, January is neverending.


Fils de pute – son of a bitch


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For members


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).