one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by seb292005, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. seb292005 Member

    What does this idiom mean : "one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel"
  2. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    If you leave a rotten apple in a barrel of apples, the bacteria destroying it will gradually spread throughout the whole barrelful. In the same way a person who causes difficulties or is dishonest may influence others in the community or organisation he belongs to. A good example familiar to any schoolteacher is a disruptive, foulmouthed and violent pupil whose behaviour may render an otherwise easily manageable class quite unteachable, or a crooked policeman who persuades his colleagues to join him on the payroll of the local mafia.
  3. david314

    david314 Senior Member

    Clayton, Missouri
    American English
    Et en français, svp? :confused:,:(
    -& welcome to the forum, seb292005! :)
  4. boterham Senior Member

    Rijsel, France
    French, France
    Je crois qu'il existe une expression qui parle d'une brebis galeuse qui contaminerait le troupeau tout entier... Ça dit quelque chose à quelqu'un ?
  5. madolo Senior Member

    Oui, on pourrait dire "il suffit d'une brebis galeuse ..." (sans finir la phrase).
  6. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    L'atilf référence la phrase Il ne faut qu'une brebis galeuse pour gâter tout un troupeau.

    Mais en effet, on a rarement besoin de citer la phrase en entier.
  7. yann_ccc Banned

    more precisely "Il suffit d'une brebis galeuse pour gâter tout le troupeau."

    a general remark : The problem with proverbs - especially in languages like English and French today is that at least in spontaneous conversations they are very severely falling into disuse

    True the abbreviated form sounds more palatable but still...
  8. boterham Senior Member

    Rijsel, France
    French, France
    Est-ce que je suis le seul à penser que "gâter" tout un troupeau ne sonne pas bien français ? A mon avis, c'est trop proche de l'anglais "spoil" et je dirais plutôt "condamner", "contaminer", "décimer" ou "ravager", non ?
  9. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    En vérité, cet usage de gâter (dans le sens de gâcher) est bien français, mais vieilli. D'ailleurs on parle bien de fruits gâtés.
  10. boterham Senior Member

    Rijsel, France
    French, France
    Des fruits gâtés, d'accord, parfait même. Des dents aussi. Mais des brebis ... Enfin, c'est seb292005 qui choisira ...
  11. Punky Zoé

    Punky Zoé Senior Member

    France - français

    Un proverbe marocain traduit en français :
    "Il suffit d'un poisson pourri pour contaminer tout le panier."

    (Je cherche toujours un équivalent français que j'ai sur le bout de la langue :eek:)

    P.S. Contaminer conviendrait bien pour la brebis également ...
  12. bobepine

    bobepine Senior Member

    Canada, English & French
    I'd really love further explanation on this - to me, a brebis galeuse, in its strictest sense, poses a danger to the flock and should be removed (like the bad apple that started the thread.) The black sheep, in and of itself, is harmless even though it stands out. Am i missing something?

    Furthermore, if a brebis galeuse is a black sheep, how should one translate mouton noir? The three terms overlap quite a bit, certainly, but I wouldn't equate them all.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2008
  13. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    Let me put this quandary to the test. Today's Washington Post reports the arrest of a police officer, who while on duty served as a look-out for a robbery that went bad and resulted in the murder of the victim. He was charged with murder, and the chief of police said:

    "We will not allow this department to be judged by one bad apple; rather, we should be judged on how we handled that bad apple."

    Si les propositions de ce fil marchent, donc, je devrais pouvoir l'exprimer ainsi :

    Nous ne permettrons pas que la police de cette ville soit jugée par les actes d'une seule brebis galeuse ; on devrait plutôt nous juger selon notre réaction aux actes de celle-ci.

    In English, "black sheep" could not exactly replace bad apple in this context...
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
  14. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    Bonjour, ça me paraît une bonne idée :).

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