Hello and welcome back to “Expressions bien de chez nous”! What do you think this new expression means? Does it have to do with making your mouth smaller? Is it some kind of grimace? Let’s find out!
The origins of th expression
Back in the XV century, we referred to people who were difficult when eating as “la petite bouche”. This was told in order to compare them to others who used to eat with pleasure all the dishes that were served or who opened a big mouth to eat. In other words, this expression makes reference to having a short appetite. The term “petite” later turned into “fine” and the expression was widespread and used beyond the food field.
Let’s start by breaking down this phrase a little. First we have the verb “faire” (to make), a recurrent verb, by the way. Next we have “la fine” meaning small or thin and “bouche” which means “mouth”.
Like we previously mentioned, this expression was used to talk about eating but it was widespread in other fields too. In this sense, this means to play difficult, to make grimaces, to not be very easygoing, to be difficult when eating. It also means to be someone difficult in general or to be very delicate.
In the first situation we have a mother and a son having dinner. This time she cooked some broccoli even if his son doesn’t like it. She tries to convince him broccoli i good for his health and growing up:
“Mon chéri, parfois il ne faut pas faire la fine bouche.”
The second example belongs to a meeting in a big office. Someone is presenting their project to the managers and even if they’re not very content, they agree it’s a promising project and they’re not going to discard it by being too picky:
“Il y a eu quelques gestes superflus, mais on ne va pas faire la fine bouche.”
The last one happens at a parents meeting. One of the parents is mecontent concerning the decisions that have been made for the school program. However the majority of parents agree to this new program and ask this one parent to not be difficult, to which he answer he has the right to be that way for his son’s sake:
“J’ai le droit de faire la fine bouche à propos des choix de mon fils.”
And you? Do you know a similar expression in your language(s)? Don’t forget to share with us.
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