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Envoyer quelqu'un sur les roses and more French flower expressions

Two luminous water lily decorations have been stolen from a village in the south west. We look at five French expressions related to flowers

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

Two luminous ‘water lilies’ installed as decorations for end of year celebrations have been stolen from a village in Tarn (Occitanie).

The flowers were stolen a few hours apart on December 22 from near a school in Cahuzac-sur-Vère. They had been offered to the village by the festival of lanterns in Gaillac.

A sign has been put up at the place of the theft, reading “honte à la personne qui a volé deux fleurs” (‘Shame on the person who stole two flowers’). 

Anybody who has any information on the theft should contact the town hall on 05 63 33 90 18.

Here we look at five French expressions related to flowers:

Envoyer quelqu’un sur les roses (literally ‘to send someone to the roses’):

This expression means to get rid of someone.

While they look appealing, roses hide potentially dangerous thorns. The idea presented in the expression therefore is that when someone is sent (away) to the roses, they are pricked by the thorns and do not return.

However, the general positive connotations of roses imply a level of tact or discretion.

À fleur de peau (literally ‘on the flower of the skin’):

This expression is typically used in relation to somebody who is extremely sensitive.

The term la fleur is said to date to the 12th century and come from the Latin florem, meaning ‘the finest part of something’. By the end of the 14th century, it came to mean ‘the surface’ and to this day, à fleur de peau means ‘on the surface of the skin’.

However, the skin being delicate and capable of being hurt with just a scratch and getting goosebumps at just a sound or touch the expression has also come to mean highly (or over) sensitive.

For example, you might hear it said, “il a une sensibilité à fleur de peau”, meaning ‘he is hypersensitive’.

Au ras des pâquerettes (literally ‘level with daisies’):

This expression is used to refer to something unimportant or of low standard.

It comes from the idea that size equals worth or quality. As daisies are small flowers, they designate something of low value.

Être fleur bleue (literally ‘to be a blue flower’):

This expression refers to somebody who is sentimental / romantic.

It has its origins in German writer Novelis’ 1811 book Heinrich von Ofterdingen, in which a blue flower represents the protagonist’s love interest.

Découvrir le pot aux roses (literally ‘to discover the pot of roses’):

This expression means ‘to discover the secret’.

One theory is that in the Middle Ages, women would hide love letters and gifts in flower pots – to discover what’s in the pot of roses would therefore be to discover their secrets.

Another theory is that the expression refers to rose-coloured makeup or rose-scented perfume – when women took off the lid to the box, they revealed the secret to their attractive look or scent.

It is also possible that the expression derives from the Latin phrase sub rosa (literally ‘under the rose’).

It is said that in ancient mythology, Cupid, the god of love, gave a rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to convince him to keep a secret. Romans therefore decorated their party halls with roses to remind guests that whatever happens should stay sub rosa – a secret.

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