Faire porter le chapeau

Bonjour et bienvenue dans notre rubrique “Expressions bien de chez nous”! Today we have the pleasure to introduce you to a new expression that is maybe less cool than the other…Let’s find out why.

What does it mean?

This expression is composed of two verbs: the first one is “faire” (to make) and the second one is “porter” (to wear). In the last position we find the noun “chapeau” (hat). So when we put it together it is as if we’re making someone wear a hat, as if we’re forcing someone to do something. The meaning of this expression is not very far from this one. In fact, “faire porter le chapeau à quelqu’un” means to deny one’s crime or mistake and blame someone else. Not very cool, huh?

But why “chapeau”? Where does this expression come from?

There is no historical evidence of the use of this expression or its origins. A hat can be considered as camouflage. In order to not be recognized, to hide one’s face. A hat is the attribute of a person who hides something. “Faire porter le chapeau à quelqu’un”  is in this way to accuse someone and claim them guilty. It also means to tarnish one’s reputation.

Some examples

Imagine there are three kids playing in their room and being loud. Suddenly, an object is broken and two of the kids say “It was Sarah”. By doing this, both “font porter le chapeau” à Sarah. In other words, they take no responsibility and blame her so as not to be in trouble.  


A second example would be when politicians blame others for their faults. Imagine a politician stole some money from the Government and he doesn’t want to be accused. Instead, he accuses another politician to avoid a judgment against himself. Here, the politician 1  “fait porter le chapeau à l’homme politique 2”.

We have also found some examples in literature:

  •  — Et qu’en pense le conseil d’administration ? (And what does the administrative council think?)
    — Ils voudraient que nous fassions porter le chapeau à l’un de nos sous-traitants et je dois me battre pour que nous assumions cette erreur dont nous sommes les seuls véritables responsables. (They would like us to lay all responsibility on one of  our subcontractors and I have to fight so that we can assume this error that is only of our fault.)
  •  (Jennifer Hayward, Une brûlante étreinte, traduction française de Fabrice Canepa, Harlequin, 2016)

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and learning a new “expression imagée”. Do you know an expression in your language(s) that resembles this one? Let us know!

We have set up some quizzes so that you can better understand this expression. Just click below to access these quizzes.