For members


Word of the day: La risée

An expression you probably don't want to be the subject of.

Word of the day: La risée
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know la risée?

It’s a good one to know in case you are the target of someone’s jokes.

What does it mean?

La risée is the laughter made by a group of people. It comes from rire (to laugh). However it can also be used to mean mockery, ridicule, laughing stock or scorn.

Être la risée de quelque chose means ‘to be the laughing stock of something’.

It’s also used to describe a person or subject that is being mocked or ridiculed – the butt of joke.

In the example below it’s ex Friends actor Matthew Perry who is being mocked.

If you’re talking about the person who is the butt of the joke you use the verb être, but if you’re using to describe the action of ‘taking the piss/taking the Mickey’ you use faire Faire une risée de quelque chose’ means ‘to take the piss out of something or someone.’

Use it like this

Il s’éleva une grande risée du public – the crowd burst into laughter

Si nous arrivons en retard, nous serons la risée de tout le monde – If we’re late everyone will laugh at us

Il se moquait de lui et en faisait la risée de l’école – He mocked him and made him the laughing stock of the school


raillerie – mockery, ridicule

être le dindon de la farce – to be the butt of the joke

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Un de ces quatres

The perfect response to that invitation you don't really want to say a firm yes to.

French Expression of the Day:  Un de ces quatres

Why do I need to know un de ces quatres?

Because you will probably hear this phrase while trying to make plans with someone in French

What does it mean?

Un de ces quatres – usually pronounced uhn duh say cat-truhs – translates exactly to “one of these fours.” If taken literally the phrase really does not make any sense in French or English. But in actuality, it means “one of these days,” “at some point,” or just “soon.”

This expression is a shortening of “one of these four mornings to come,” which was first used in the second half of the 19th century. It designates a time that is sometime in the near future, but still rather indeterminate.

In French, the number ‘four’ is often used in expressions to refer to imprecise, or small, quantities. Some people say this is because four is the number for the seasons and cardinal points (North, South, East, West), so saying ‘one of these four’ shows a level of ambiguity. But unfortunately we don’t really know exactly how (or why) this phrase arose.

If you want another way of saying this, you can always stick with the regular “un de ces jours” (one of these days).

Use it like this

J’ai été tellement occupée ces derniers temps mais nous devrons prendre un verre un de ces quatres. – I’ve been so busy lately, but we have to grab a drink one of these days.

Il m’a dit qu’il nettoierait la salle de bain un de ces quatres, donc je suppose que ça n’a pas encore été fait. – He told me he would clean the bathroom one of these days, so I guess it hasn’t been done yet.