To Set a Rabbit Down or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

This journey through the alphabet is a fun way to show how expressions don’t always have an equivalent when translated, and also to illustrate how literal translations always sound awkward.







The expression, dating from the late 19th century, was first used when someone didn’t pay for a service or a favor. Over the years it lost this initial meaning. Poser un lapin is now simply used when someone doesn’t respect a prior engagement and doesn’t show up at an appointment, leaving you waiting for nothing.


A note about appointment: There is only one word in French for Appointment and this is Rendez-vous (hyphenated).

The French call to book a rendez-vous with their dentist, physician, hair stylist, their children’s teachers, friends, and special ones.


Returning to “Poser un Lapin”, do you know of a better way to say “Stand Somebody Up” in English?

Et vous les français, est-ce qu’une nouvelle expression a remplacé celle ci?



A to Z Challenge


See you tomorrow!


  1. I don’t know of a better expression but I’m glad we have other words to use here. I’m not sure I’d like the thought of having a rendezvous with my dentist 🙂

    • I don’t need to specify that I did ask for rendezvous in the US in my early days! Embarrassing when I leaned the word Appointment! Thank you, Dan and have a great weekend!

  2. Very interesting Evelyne. Great idea for a series of articles. Hugs.

  3. Si elle est un petit peu moins utilisée j’ai l’impression, elle existe toujours. Les ados maintenant disent pas mal “Il m’a planté” ou quelque chose d’approchant, mais je pense que cette expression a encore de beaux jours devant elle 🙂

  4. All these years I thought rendezvous had a romantic connotation only! This is a fun series of posts to follow.

    • I bet you did! Most people think it is in the US. I didn’t so I used it with its French meaning, which created awkward and also funny conversations! Glad you are enjoying this series, Mona. Thank you.

  5. J’adore cette expression, quand j’étais lycéenne je l’entendais beaucoup.

  6. So interesting to hear about the word Rendezvous – we have a café nearby called the Rendezvous café – but it’s not only for romantic meetings!

    • Most Americans use it with a romantic connotation, although the choice of a meeting can definitely be called rendezvous. Good name for a café. Thank you, Andrea, for your daily visits. It’s like having a rendez-vous! 😊

  7. I don’t actually know a synonym for that one. Not even an idiomatic expression.

    • That’s a pretty hard one to match, I agree. A more contemporary one, according to my French Mary, can be “Planter,” which is To Plant. Makes sense since you are remain planted when someone stood you up. In any case, thank you again, Marilyn for another visit to this series.

  8. I like the idea of setting down a rabbit, it conjures up an interesting mental image, like someone can’t meet up for an appointment because they’ve got to put their rabbit somewhere safe instead, hehe.

    Cait @ Click’s Clan

    • Glad you found an explanation! Not sure about that but in any case it is a typically French expression that I’ve heard and used too, although I don’t like to stand people up. Stop by again!

  9. “Blow somebody off” can mean “stand somebody up” but it’s also possible to blow someone off face to face, as by ignoring what they say or ridiculing them. I’m going to think more about that rabbit!

  10. You are right! Blow somebody off is a good one actually. The rabbit is weird, isn’t it? There are so many strange French expressions, now that I’m going through. When they are familiar we rarely think about their meaning. Now that I do I find many to be very explicit and others much more obscure. Thanks, Susanna, for your interest.

  11. Je ne suis pas française, mais j’ai entendu c’est expression quelque fois de mon mari ou nous amis, et je l’adore! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @

  12. Intéressant! Je n’ai pas su cette expression, mais malheureusement je crois qu’elle pourrait utile de temps en temps. “Rendez-vous” est un bon exemple d’un mot que nous avons emprunté du français et puis nous avons changé la signification en anglais. Il y en a beaucoup d’autres !

    • Poser un lapin ou se faire planter sont des expressions courantes en France. Rendez-vous peut surprendre car le sens est un peu différent aux US. J’aime le fait que vous utilisiez les deux selon vos envies. A plus tard.

  13. To set a rabbit down sounds like such a nicer way of saying it. The image of a cuddly bunny would make me feel better if someone ever left me in the lurch.

    • It’s a funny and cute expression, isn’t it? I’m sure that you must know some great ones in your mother language, no?
      You share so much about your dual identity that it could be an idea to do an idiom series too! 😊

  14. Hi Evelyne, I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up with your fascinating series, due to a family emergency last week which is now slowly resolving…I will try and catch up with what I’ve missed. Another way of saying ‘stand somebody up’ would be to ‘leave you in the lurch’!

    • Oh, Sherri, you don’t need to apologize. Reading a daily post is a lot to ask from anyone. Promise, I won’t do it often! I am sorry to read that the reason is a family problem and I hope that everyone is doing better now.
      “Leaving you in the lurch” sounds so British! Love it!

      • Thanks so much Evelyne, things are getting better again I am happy to report 🙂 And I had a feeling you would like that saying!

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