donner un coup de pied dans la fourmilière

maddief24

Senior Member
English, Pennsylvania, United States
Je pense que j'ai l'idée générale mais est-ce que quelqu'un peut l'expliquer en détail? Merci!
 
  • MattF

    Senior Member
    English UK
    or "put the cat among the pigeons"

    To explain in detail, which I notice none of us has done:

    the idea is that if you kick an anthill over, all the ants
    come out and start running about in confusion - "like headless
    chickens", as we say on this side of the pond.
     

    maddief24

    Senior Member
    English, Pennsylvania, United States
    Well I have never heard of any of those expressions in English, but actually someone explained it to me differently. They said: quand on n'en peut plus et qu'on a envie de tout recommencer. Is this correct? I don't know if I even explained that well...
     

    MattF

    Senior Member
    English UK
    maddief24 said:
    Well I have never heard of any of those expressions in English, but actually someone explained it to me differently. They said: quand on n'en peut plus et qu'on a envie de tout recommencer. Is this correct? I don't know if I even explained that well...
    I think that what you got there was an example rather than an explanation:

    "J'en pouvais plus, j'en avais ras l'bol, alors j'ai démissioné, et ça a foutu un
    sacré coup de pied dans la fourmilière!"

    "I'd had enough; I was completely fed up, so I handed in my notice,
    and that sure put the cat among the pigeons!"
     

    irka_hcmc

    Senior Member
    French, Dijon
    to come back to what edwingly said :

    to stir up a hornets' nest.

    Is this correct ? because i never heard about that before.
    To stir up means kick in(to)?
     

    MattF

    Senior Member
    English UK
    irka_hcmc said:
    to come back to what edwingly said :

    to stir up a hornets' nest.

    Is this correct ? because i never heard about that before.
    Yes.
    To stir up means kick in(to)?
    No. It's a figurative use. To stir something is to use an implement of
    some sort - like in cooking, if you put a spoon into a pot and move it
    around, you're stirring the pot.
     

    franc 91

    Senior Member
    English - GB
    For me the idea given by this expression is that the anthill is quite big and all you can do (out of frustration) is to aim a kick at it - it might result in a fuss being made but there's still a lot of inertia there. There is another expression - secouer le cocotier which I think is a bit more dynamic (cat among the pigeons?)
     

    lune_bleue

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    ok. so in the end, does the expression have that sense ? to provoke ?

    as in something from outside which shakes the stableness, the stability of an institution, ....
     
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    franc 91

    Senior Member
    English - GB
    oui mais je n'ai pas l'impression que c'est très efficace - une boutade qui ne va pas plus loin, qui reste sans effet
     

    Anakarkis

    Member
    French
    This expression doesn't mean " to provoke " but it indeed means to wreak havoc in a stable institution often...

    " Les nouvelles réformes ont mis un sacré coup de pied dans la fourmilière. "

    Or when a police operation stops organized criminal activities :

    donner un coup de pied dans la fourmilière, désorganiser par une intervention brutale une entreprise, un trafic suspects

    ...
     

    franc 91

    Senior Member
    English - GB
    Well that is what I'm saying, when the police try (and I mean try) to stop whatever the Mafia or any other kind of organised crime organisation get up to, the effect is often quite limited compared to the size of the organisation (la fourmilière) they're up against. Organised crime and all the various mafias around the world continue to flourish. La fourmilière est toujours là.
     

    Moon Palace

    Senior Member
    French
    I don't think the meaning of the phrase goes so far as to imply the action is limited. Here is what the FreeDic's French dictionary gives as a meaning of the phrase, and I agree on the fact that when you use it, it is to show that you are going to disorganise something. Whether you succeed or not in doing so depends on context, not on the phrase itself.
    Donner un coup de pied dans la fourmilière, provoquer de l'agitation, de l'inquiétude dans un milieu que l'on souhaite contrôler ou contenir.
     

    sampat1running

    Senior Member
    English-Ireland
    No-one , so far, has mentioned the English title of the third part of the Swedish, 'millenium trilogy' "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest", it seems apprporiate here, someone who 'put the cat among the pigeons' , who upset the status quo
     
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