For members


French word of the day: Rabat-joie

No one likes a party pooper, but we're all looking forward to being able to use this French expression again.

French word of the day: Rabat-joie
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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)

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For members


French Word of the Day: Doper

This French word does not have anything to do with one of Snow White’s seven dwarves, even if it might look like it.

French Word of the Day: Doper

Why do I need to know doper?

Because you may not have realised you can use this word in several different contexts.

What does it mean?

Doper roughly pronounced doe-pay – shares the same meaning as the English word “to dope” – in the sense that it means taking or giving a stimulant before a sporting event or competition. 

It doesn’t carry the English sense of ‘to sedate’, however, nor is it used as a nickname for marijuana. 

In French this word is not only used when describing an athlete who has resorted to unfair methods to win. In fact, you will see this word in many other contexts as well because doper also means to stimulate or boost something in a generic sense. 

If you open a business newspaper in France, you might see an article using doper in the headline – perhaps one that discusses how the government plans to stimulate a dying sector of the economy.

If you want a synonym for doper, you can still use the verb stimuler (to stimulate) or dynamiser (to rejuvenate).

And Snow White? In France she is Blanche Comme Neige and the dwarfs are Prof (Doc), Timide (Bashful) Atchoum (Sneezy), Joyeux (Happy), Dormeur (Sleepy), Grincheux (Grumpy) and Simplet (Dopey).

Use it like this

La France dispose d’un plan national pour doper une énergie renouvelable prometteuse : la géothermie. – France has a national plan to boost a promising renewable energy: geothermal.

Les récentes réductions d’impôts et certaines autres mesures prévues sont destinées à doper l’emploi. – The recent tax cuts and other measures planned are intended to boost employment.