French word of the day: Rabat-joie

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 22 Mar, 2021 Updated Mon 22 Mar 2021 13:07 CEST
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No one likes a party pooper, but we're all looking forward to being able to use this French expression again.


Why do I need to know rabat-joie?

Because it's common, but also one of those words that you cannot translate directly.

What does it mean?

The verb rabattre means 'reject', 'reduce' or 'lower', while joie means 'joy', so together rabat and joie quite literally become 'reject-joy'.

Un rabat-joie (a joy-reducer or joy-rejecter) is someone "whose mood hinders the joy of others," according to online dictionary l'Internaute

In other words, it's what you in English call a 'killjoy', 'buzzkill' or 'party pooper'.

READ ALSO: Mouth fun? French words you just can’t translate literally


Due to Covid-19, parties have basically become extinct, but many will also be looking forward to welcoming parties back into our daily lives. With then les rabat-joies (the former killjoys) will also return. 

Use it like this

Allez, ne sois pas un rabat-joie ! - Come on, don't be a killjoy!

Mais quelle rabat-joie, celle-là. La prochaine fois je ne l'inviterai pas. - What a buzzkill she is. Next time I won't invite her.

Ne fais pas ton rabat-joie, viens t'amuser avec nous ! - Don't be such a party pooper, come have fun with us!


Trouble-fête - 'trouble-party' (party pooper)

Bonnet de nuit - night cap (party pooper)



The Local 2021/03/22 13:07

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