play close to the vest

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by cyann, Feb 17, 2007.

  1. cyann Junior Member

    Hautes Pyrénées
    france french
    Bonjour, pouvez-vous m'aider à traduire cette phrase extraite d'un dialogue de film : "he plays things close to the vest, now".
    Merci d'avance !
     
  2. timboleicester

    timboleicester Senior Member

    Paris
    English - UK

    The expression that I have heard is "....close to his/her/the chest" From card games where you prevent other players seeing which cards you have by holding them ... close to you chest.

    Don't know the French, sorry. "Il ne partage ces pensées avec les autres" maybe
     
  3. carolineR

    carolineR Senior Member

    Indian Ocean
    France
    il joue serré
    il ne dit rien de ses intentions...
    tt dépend du contexte :)
     
  4. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    Minneapolis
    USA English
    The meaning goes beyond playing cards close to the vest. Its broader meaning is "He is being consciously and obviously careful." Par exemple on pourrait dire << Il ne ferait pas un décision jusqu'a il connait toutes les factes. Il a peu de faire une erreur. >>
     
  5. timboleicester

    timboleicester Senior Member

    Paris
    English - UK
    I was referring to the origins of the expression... of course it goes further than a card game as my attempt at translation makes no mention of cards. Incidentally have others heard this expression with VEST and not CHEST?
     
  6. carolineR

    carolineR Senior Member

    Indian Ocean
    France
    never, chest always... but vest sounds pretty good, too, and evokes gambling dens, sweat and poker :)
    the French equivalent is "il ne montre pas son jeu".
     
  7. timboleicester

    timboleicester Senior Member

    Paris
    English - UK
    I thought it maybe a BE/AE thing but I think the origianal poster must have heard vest and not chest.

    I like your expression as retains the game playing allusion.
     
  8. fleury Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO, USA
    English (US)
    I believe the quotation was from Pirates of the Caribbean, a Disney film and therefore, I assume, using American idiom.

    To my AE ears, the expression is always "close to the vest" -- as it was in this quotation -- never "chest". From the preceding posts, I think this must be a BE/AE thing.
     
  9. archijacq Senior Member

    Albi
    french France
    et aussi:
    couvrir son jeu
    (bien) cacher son jeu
     
  10. pieanne

    pieanne Senior Member

    Nice Hinterland
    Belgium/French
    Maybe "cacher son jeu" is a bit different? I'd use it in a context where you mean to delude someone.
     
  11. archijacq Senior Member

    Albi
    french France
    play close to the vest (metaphorical use): you plot your course of action cautiously, carefully and with cunning, and you keep your intentions and information hidden (poker face !)
     
  12. pieanne

    pieanne Senior Member

    Nice Hinterland
    Belgium/French
    Oh, OK :) But I guess it depends on the context, right?
     
  13. archijacq Senior Member

    Albi
    french France
    et c'est tellement subjectif. Au plaisir de vous retrouver.
     
  14. cyann Junior Member

    Hautes Pyrénées
    france french
    thanks a lot for your answers !
    Cette phrase est bien tirée du film "pirates des caraïbes". Vu le contexte, on peut comprendre d'après ce que vous dites : "il est très discret sur ça", "il n'en parle pas".
     
  15. chazzabum Junior Member

    Hull, UK
    English, England
    i think it may have actually been about playing close to the nest, which means that someone carries out their leisurely activities close to home.
    just a thought ! ;)
    x
     
  16. frenchpastriestastegood New Member

    English - American
    Je cherche pour un equivelant de la phrase "keeping close to the vest" dans la sentence "He wondered if he should start questioning her about the war or play it close to the vest and keep his mouth shut." Je n'ai jamais entendu cette phrase en anglais mais je crois qu'elle veut dire faire attention mais encore je ne suis pas sûr. S'il y a un expression parreil en français ça sera cool mais sinon je veux trouver quelque chose qui a presque la même sens merci bcp!
     
  17. bh7 Senior Member

    Limestone City
    Canada; English
    "close to the vest" => [North Am.] cautiously, guardedly; carefully
    Il me semble que dans ton contexte "carefully" conviendrait mieux.
     
  18. Budd

    Budd Senior Member

    Washington, DC
    American English
    A couple of things. I'm quite sure the original phrase is "close to the vest," not chest (and God knows where the hell "nest" comes from), and comes from gambling (most likely poker), as a couple of people have suggested here. I think "bien cacher son jeu," as pieanne suggests, is a good and idiomatic translation or equivalent. And no, context has little if anything to do with the meaning of the phrase. It always means, whether used figuratively or literally, to keep one's own counsel, not to reveal anything, not to tip one's hand, which again is pretty close to "bien cacher son jeu," to be secretive. And the phrase is a lot older than Pirates of the Caribbean. Archijacq's "poker face" is very good, but an inch or so off the bull's-eye. Poker face, literal or figurative, means to be expressionless, blank while it is possible, even normal, to play your cards close to your vest while smiling, frowning, putting moves on a girl, doing the dirty boogie, or ordering a burger. In AE these days, it is rarely used about card players, but more frequently about people bargaining or negotiating—or bamboozling (= déboussoler). And (I quote Samuel Pepys) and so to bed.
     

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