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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French phrase of the day: Rouler dans la farine

France loves a good food metaphor, and this is definitely one of the strangest.

French phrase of the day: Rouler dans la farine
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know rouler dans la farine?

Because it would help you avoid some (funny) misunderstandings.

What does it mean?

Rouler dans la farine translates as ‘roll in flour’, which sounds like a fun activity you would do at the boulangerie.

But you don’t have to be a baker to roll stuff in flour in France, at least not when using this expression, which is in reality a metaphor for something quite different.

In reality, rouler dans la farine means ‘fool’ or ‘deceive’. The closest French synonym is duper, ‘to fool’.

As you have probably guessed, the flour is a form for disguise, the idea being that the white powder conceals the truth to the person that is rolled in it.

Origins

This expression originated in the early 19th Century when rouler (roll) meant ‘deceive’. Je me suis fait rouler – I made myself roll – therefore meant ‘I was fooled’.

The flour was a symbol of “beautiful speech”, according to French online dictionary l’Internaute.

Another theory claims the flour referred to that white powder actors back then used to cover their faces.

You are either being rolled in flour (being fooled) or you roll someone else in flour (fooling them).

When talking about yourself, you say je me fais rouler dans la farine (I’m being fooled), or je me suis fait rouler dans la farine (I was fooled).

If you are a bit unsteady grammar-wise, it is easier to be the fooler, not the fooled, when conjugating this expression:

Je te roule dans la farine (I am fooling you) – Je t’ai roulé dans la farine (I fooled you).

Use it like this

On s’est bien fait rouler dans la farine, dis-donc. –  We were thoroughly fooled, hey.

Je ne te laisserai pas me rouler dans la farine cette fois ! – I won’t let you fool me this time!

Ils les ont roulés dans la farine si longtemps que personne ne sait plus ce qui est vrai et ce qui est faux. – They have deceived them for so long that no one knows what is true and what is false anymore.

Synonyms 

Duper – fool 

Tromper – deceive 

Berner – delude

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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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