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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French word of the Day: Chiner

This is a word that has changed its meaning quite dramatically over time and has developed a whole new sense.

French word of the Day: Chiner
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know Chiner? 

Because this word – pronounced shee-nay with a soft c, not a ‘ch’ sound like in chocolate – has so many meanings you’ll want to make sure you use it the right way. 

What does it mean? 

In France, this verb is most commonly used when you go bargain hunting for old furniture or second-hand goods at a Brocante – a vintage or second hand. 

You’ll likely hear something like: Allons chiner à la brocante ! – Let’s go find things at the brocante! (Find out more about this French institution here). 

But for the younger generation it doesn’t quite have the same meaning.

In fact, chiner somebody means trying to chat someone up or hitting on them. Tu la chines? – Are you hitting on her?

While younger people use it that way, it funnily doesn’t really mean that at all. In fact, according to the French dictionary’s definition, chiner means “to criticise, to laugh at” but this is very rarely heard nowadays. 

Use it like this

Tu as vu ma nouvelle chaise ? Je l’ai chiné à la brocante le week-end dernier ! – Did you see my new chair? I found it at the brocante last weekend!

Ce mec n’arrête pas de me chiner, j’en ai marre ! – This guy keeps hitting on me, i’m sick of it!

Synonyms

Draguer – to flirt or to hit on 

Brocanter – to bargain-hunt

Blaguer – to joke

Although chiner sounds a bit like the English word shine, it does not have this meaning in French. The verb ‘to shine’ is instead briller.

Member comments

  1. Tu as vu ma nouvelle chaise ? Je l’ai chinéE with a ‘e’ at the end

    J’ai chiné une chaise (féminin)
    La chaise que j’ai chinée. Je l’ai chinée.

    Tou have la chaise, complément d’objet direct located before avoir. 😉

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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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