Rouler quelqu’un dans la farine
by Clare Jones
Many thanks to the BBC Radio 4 programme You and Yours for helping my son get his money back from the driving instructor agency Drive Dynamics after a 4-month battle. If you live in the U.K., you can hear the article here starting at about 20 minutes into the programme.
This has reminded me of a useful, colloquial French expression which features in my book, Je mourrai moins bête: 200 French expressions to help you die less stupid (available on Amazon or from The Oundle Bookshop).
- rouler quelqu’un dans la farine – to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes; to deceive or dupe somebody
Literally: to roll somebody in flour
- se faire rouler dans la farine – to be deceived or duped; to be had; to have the wool pulled over one’s eyes
Literally: to have oneself rolled in flour
Ils ont essayé de nous rouler dans la farine mais ils n’ont pas réussi.
They tried to dupe us but they didn’t succeed.
This 19th century expression is a happy combination of two ideas, each to do with being conned. Se faire rouler on its own means ‘to be done’: je me suis fait rouler ! – I’ve been done! La farine once had the meaning of ‘deceitful arguments’ and, also, might have referred to the makeup used by actors to disguise their faces when taking on a role. Put the two halves together and you have been well and truly duped!
When Jacques Chirac was président de la République, it was sometimes cheekily said that his Prime Minister (2002-2005) Jean-Pierre Raffarin “roulait la population dans la raffarine”.
By the way, if you have read my book and enjoyed it, please leave a review on Amazon!
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