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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French expression of the day: Cul sec

If someone shouts this at you they are not talking about your bottom.

French expression of the day: Cul sec
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know cul sec?

Because it’s an expression we hope soon to hear again as France prepares to reopen its restaurants and bars later in spring.

What does it mean?

Cul sec directly translates as ‘dry bottom’, which sounds like an inappropriate thing to say in public.

But although cul is often translated as ‘arse’ or ‘butt’ it can also mean the bottom of an object.

READ ALSO: Cool cul: 13 of the best French ‘bottom’ expressions

So if someone in a bar shouts cul sec, they’re not talking about the human cul, but rather the cul (bottom) of the drink. When the glass is sec (dry), the drink is gone.

French online dictionary l’Internaute defines cul sec as “boire un verre d’un seul trait, sans s’arrêter”, which means “do have a drink in one go, without stopping.”

It’s what in English is also known as ‘chugging’ or ‘downing’ a drink.

Cul sec ! – Down it!

The full expression is faire cul sec (to do dry bottom) or boire cul sec (to drink dry bottom).

Cul sec isn’t a vulgar expression, but if you’re at a work party or with your French in-laws we suggest you refrain from hurling back your drink and instead opt for the more formal option of toasting the company with a santé (good health) or tchin-tchin (cheers) adn taking a polite sip.

Use it like this

On fait cul sec ? – Let’s down it?

Allez les gars, cul sec ! – Come on guys, down it!  

Si tu perds, tu dois boire cul sec ton verre entier. – If you lose, you have to down your whole drink.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

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. 

Alternatives

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).

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