Enfant de la balle and more French expressions about children

With gynaecologists recommending pregnant women have a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, we look at three French expression relating to children

23 November 2021

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

Gynaecologists in France are recommending that pregnant women get a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

A statement on this was recently released by the French national college of obstetricians and gynecologists in partnership with the Groupe de Recherche sur les Infections pendant la Grossesse, a group dedicated to researching infections occurring during pregnancy.

The recommendation was attributed to the reduction of immunity over time and the particular vulnerability of pregnant women to Covid. 

The dose should be administered ‘regardless of the term of pregnancy’, the two say, and also recommend a third vaccine dose is offered to women who plan to get pregnant.

We look at French expressions about babies and children:

Enfant de la balle (literally ‘child of the ball’):

This term defines someone raised in his or her parents’ profession, in particular in an artistic domain such as the circus or theatre.

It was coined in the 17th century and initially used to define the child of a master of jeu de paume (literally ‘game of the palm’) - a popular sport at the time known in English as real tennis or court tennis - as these children would often grow up to excel in their parents’ profession.

The expression over time extended to all children who grow into the profession of their parents. 

Jeter le bébé avec l’eau du bain (literally ‘to throw the baby with the bathwater’): 

This expression is used when a person forgets about or does not concentrate on something important.

It is said that the expression derives from 19th century bathing rituals, when access to water was scarce and families would often use the same bathwater for everyone, starting with the father and ending with the youngest.

By the time the babies would be put in the bath, the water would be very dirty. It would therefore be easier to lose sight of them if not paying full attention.

The expression now refers to losing sight of anything that is important.

Another theory is that the expression was brought over from the German language in the 16th century.

Bébé Cadum (literally ‘Cadum baby’):

This expression is used to describe somebody who is acting immaturely.

It is inspired by the soap brand Cadum, which is known for its advertisements featuring young children.

Related articles: 

Fort comme un Turc and more French phrases inspired by other cultures

Français de souche and more expressions inspired by France

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