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Coeur d'artichaut et chaud lapin

Franglish idioms if you are head over heels for someone and want to get all lovey-dovey!

By Manon Variol

As Voltaire used to say: “we must cultivate our garden”. Between “romans à l’eau de rose” and “cœur d’artichaud”, gardening has a certain role in seduction. At least in French idioms…

If you intend to say:
“J’avais rendez-vous avec Michael, mais j’ai hésité à lui poser un lapin. J’ai décidé d’y aller, mais il a essayé de me rouler une pelle et il a fini par se prendre un râteau ! C'était la fin des haricots. Les carottes étaient cuites

Do not translate word for word or you would obtain this:
“I had a date with Michael but I wanted to put him a rabbit. I decided to go but he tried to roll me a shovel, so he ended up taking a rake. It was the end of the beans. The carrots were cooked."

It would be better to say:
“I had a date with Michael but I wanted to stand him up. I decided to go but he tried to give me a French kiss and I turned him down. It was the end. The goose was cooked.

Where do these expressions come from?

  • “Poser un lapin”: nowadays, this means that you do not attend an appointment, without letting the other person know that you will not be going. But, during the 19th century, the meaning of this expression was quite different. In the “Nouveau supplément du dictionnaire d’argot” published in 1889 by Lorédan Larchey, the “poseur de lapin” is described as “a man leaving girls without paying them as agreed.” Over time, the meaning has slightly changed into a simple absence. In both cases, “poser un lapin” means that you break a commitment. British would say “stand somebody up” to mean that a person will end up waiting for you for a long time!
In French, standing somebody up is said
In French, standing somebody up is "poser un lapin"
  • “Rouler une pelle”: this is quite a vulgar expression to talk about a French kiss. Lexicographers still debate the origin of this phrase. Some think it comes from the French verb “peloter” that means caressing someone insistently. Before the 19th century, people used to say “patiner”, that became “rouler un patin”. Others claim that the tongue can be compared to a shovel because of its shape. The verb “rouler” (to roll), obviously refers to the movements of the tongue during this passionate kiss. 
  • “Se prendre un râteau”: this is a funny way of saying that someone has turned us down. The expression simply comes from the famous gag you can see in silent films: a man stands on a rake and the handle hits him in the face. Basically, being rejected hurts as much as being hit in the nose. In English, you would probably say that you “turn somebody down” or “get turned down by someone”. Not quite so striking an expression!


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