Secrets to sounding like a native: demystifying French expressions – Part 6


This article is in English. Click here to read it in French. 

So you don’t really understand classic French expressions? Not to worry, we’re here to dissect and help you understand the expressions anchored in the language of Molière.

Have fun discovering just how beautiful the French language is to speak and listen to. Get to know the richness of French vocabulary with its food-inspired expressions. You’ll be surprised to find that we don’t only find them in La Fontaine fables. Master these anecdotal sayings, their meanings and their origins so you can impress all your friends with your wisdom at dinner parties.

Se faire rouler dans la farine (literally, ‘to be rolled in the flour’)

In the nineteenth century, ‘rouler’ – to roll – meant ‘to fool, to lie to someone’. As for ‘farine’ – flour – comedians used to wear it to cover their faces. The aim was to trick the audience.

Furthermore, in a story by La Fontaine, a cat covers himself in flour to catch the rat, but the rat doesn’t fall for the trap¹. From that, ‘se faire rouler dans la farine’ refers to a person who is cheated by falsely convincing words.

The equivalent English expression: ‘To pull the wool over someone’s eyes’.

Translation by Emily Arbuckle.

1. Un chat et un vieux rat, Jean La Fontaine, Dinosoria.
Illustration by Coralie L’Enfant

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Coralie L'Enfant

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  1. francois roland Dec 12, 2012 at 9:31 PM - Reply

    Hello Coralie,

    Oui c’est bien ça et de mon côté je ne connaissais pas l’expression anglaise.
    Bon, moi de mon côté pour bien illustrer l’expression et son emploi à bon escient, j’ai juste envie de dire que “se faire rouler dans la farine” c’est très exactement ce qui arrive aux français avec leur politiciens de droite ou de gauche, et cela depuis des décennies! 🙂

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