Lingua Franca | Award-Winning French Lessons Brisbane

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De quoi ? | Say what ?

se prendre un râteau | rouler une pelle



What is it about the French using gardening tools to describe amorous pursuits? Perhaps they really love their jardinage*?

Prendre un rateau* is a colloquial French saying and is used to describe the (often humiliating) experience of being rejected by a love interest. So why are we talking about râteaux*? Well, if you think about it, c’est logique*. Imagine you’re walking along, dreaming about your intended, and you step on the teeth of a rake. What happens? Well, the handle hits you in the face and you’re laid out flat. Ça fait mal*, c’est humiliant* and ça laisse des traces*. We can all feel the pain, non?

“Oh le pauvre, il a essayé de draguer Martine, mais il a pris un râteau.” 

“ Oh the poor thing, he tried to pick up Martine, but she rejected him.”

Less violent, but perhaps even more excruciating, by the way, is to be put in the ‘juste-un-pote’* category, ’ with ‘pote’ meaning ‘mate’ or ‘friend’. Ouch!

So what if, in fact, you’re lucky enough to not ‘prendre un râteau’, but succeed in winning over your paramour? Well then, you might have to change verbs (and nouns for that matter) and rouler une pelle, which means ‘to snog’. Why is French kissing known in France as ‘rolling a spade’? You’d have to ask a French person. Sérieusement*, I’m out of ideas.


*gardening | *to take a rake | *rakes | *it makes sense | *it hurts | *it's humiliating | *it leaves a mark | *friend-zone | *seriously