For members


French phrase of the day: Rouler dans la farine

France loves a good food metaphor, and this is definitely one of the strangest.

French phrase of the day: Rouler dans la farine
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know rouler dans la farine?

Because it would help you avoid some (funny) misunderstandings.

What does it mean?

Rouler dans la farine translates as ‘roll in flour’, which sounds like a fun activity you would do at the boulangerie.

But you don’t have to be a baker to roll stuff in flour in France, at least not when using this expression, which is in reality a metaphor for something quite different.

In reality, rouler dans la farine means ‘fool’ or ‘deceive’. The closest French synonym is duper, ‘to fool’.

As you have probably guessed, the flour is a form for disguise, the idea being that the white powder conceals the truth to the person that is rolled in it.


This expression originated in the early 19th Century when rouler (roll) meant ‘deceive’. Je me suis fait rouler – I made myself roll – therefore meant ‘I was fooled’.

The flour was a symbol of “beautiful speech”, according to French online dictionary l’Internaute.

Another theory claims the flour referred to that white powder actors back then used to cover their faces.

You are either being rolled in flour (being fooled) or you roll someone else in flour (fooling them).

When talking about yourself, you say je me fais rouler dans la farine (I’m being fooled), or je me suis fait rouler dans la farine (I was fooled).

If you are a bit unsteady grammar-wise, it is easier to be the fooler, not the fooled, when conjugating this expression:

Je te roule dans la farine (I am fooling you) – Je t’ai roulé dans la farine (I fooled you).

Use it like this

On s’est bien fait rouler dans la farine, dis-donc. –  We were thoroughly fooled, hey.

Je ne te laisserai pas me rouler dans la farine cette fois ! – I won’t let you fool me this time!

Ils les ont roulés dans la farine si longtemps que personne ne sait plus ce qui est vrai et ce qui est faux. – They have deceived them for so long that no one knows what is true and what is false anymore.


Duper – fool 

Tromper – deceive 

Berner – delude

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Word of the Day: Camembert

Yes it's a cheese, but this French word has several other meanings, some of which you might be surprised by.

French Word of the Day: Camembert

Why do I need to know camembert?

Because this French word is not just limited to the famous cheese.

What does it mean?

Camembert roughly pronounced cahm-mom-berr is a French word many English-speakers are familiar with, as it describes the soft, smelly cow’s milk cheese from Normandy.  

But the term has a number of other meanings in French as well. For example, a pie chart in French might technically be called a ‘diagramme en secteur’ but in reality most people simply call it a ‘camembert’ – owing to the circular shape of the cheese and its container. 

You’ll see the word used in this way when playing the game ‘Trivial Pursuit’ as well, as the pieces you fill with smaller wedges when you win the various colours, are also called camembert.

If you visit Belgium or watch a French-language film that includes Belgian characters, there is also a possibility you will hear les camemberts used as slang for “French people”, though in this case, you’d probably also hear the Belgians referred to as ‘les gaufres’ (the waffles).

Use it like this

Si vous regardez le camembert, vous verrez que la majorité des gens sont d’accord avec la déclaration du président. – If you look at the pie chart, you will see that the majority of people agree with the President’s statement.

Mon camembert est déjà à moitié rempli, je vais probablement gagner le trivial pursuit ce tour-ci. – My piece is already halfway full, I will probably win Trivial Pursuit this round.