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Laura K. Lawless

French expression: Découvrir le pot aux roses

By November 27, 2012

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Discover the not so rosy meaning behind the idiomatic French expression découvrir le pot aux roses.
More: French expressions


February 27, 2009 at 7:11 am
(1) christy says:

Funny & interesting!
I love hearing about where expressions come from especially when the meaning is very different than the literal translation.

February 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm
(2) Sean says:

Roses have always been associated with secrets. The Latin Phrase “sub rosa” (literally “beneath the rose”) beans “in secret”. In Roman times some richer houses would have a rose mosaic or statue carved on the ceiling or high on a wall in the room where they would hold parties, to remind their guests (and residents) that what was said “sub vinum” was also “sub rosa” (what was said under the influence was to be kept in confidence!).

February 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm
(3) Dada says:

Of course “sub rosa” because “in vino veritas”. I ask myself why torture was not replaced by getting the prisoner drunk, it would have been a much more pleasant experience for both parties and the information much more reliable.

July 1, 2011 at 11:46 pm
(4) Alfred J. Lemire says:

I found two online sites with explanations for “sub rosa” similar to Sean’s. Among other interesting things, they say that, in Greek mythology, Aphrodite gave her son, Eros, a rose, which he in turn gave to Harpocrates, the god of silence. The rose represented the indiscretions, shall we say, of Aphrodite, or the gods in general, which were to be held in silence. To Romans steeped in Greek culture, the implications of the rose in the banquet room’s decorations were obvious.

I encountered the variant of the expression on a French website: la presse française commentait . . . que le pot aux roses allait être dévoilé, hier après-midi heure de New York.

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