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You can call someone "chicken" or "chicken hearted" for being scared. Mind it, its not coward which is serious. Is there a funny slang expression like "chicken" in French?

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

Poule mouillée (lit. “wet hen”) is close: it means a person who lacks courage. It isn't as widely applicable as chicken: you can't use it as an adjective, and it's not as natural as in English to use it as an interjection (though you can say “Espèce de poule mouillée !”, which is roughly equivalent to “You [are] chicken!”). It is usually constructed as “X est une poule mouillée”. For example, a child might launch a race and taunt the other children by saying “le dernier arrivé est une poule mouillée”.

Where English children would shout “Chicken!”, I think French children would shout “oh, le peureux”. Another childish phrase that's close is “t'es pas cap'” (short for capable), meaning “you don't dare” (and hence can translate “I dare you”).

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Poule mouillée has for me an hint of cowardice, which @codious doesn't seem to want. –  Un francophone Apr 20 '12 at 9:50
@Un francophone: I think what he wants is a word which won't be taken seriously. –  Stéphane Gimenez Apr 20 '12 at 10:32
Quelques autres adjectifs courants: froussard, lâche, poltron. –  Joubarc Apr 20 '12 at 11:30
@Unfrancophone The way I understand the question, the problem with coward is not the meaning but the intensity: coward is serious, can be insulting; chicken is more light-hearted, more playful. –  Gilles Apr 20 '12 at 12:34
Let's also take notice of the variant : Dégonflé ! –  Romain VALERI Nov 5 '12 at 17:12
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If you want to be rude while talking to a really close friend you could say "tapette" or "t'es une tapette !" which also stands for gay.

Don't use that if that person is actually gay, that would really be homophobic.

example :

 - On va courir ?
 - T'es fou il pleut !
 - Tapette !
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Of course, it's a lot more fun to use with actual gay people (really close friends, of course). –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 5 '12 at 17:04
@LeVieuxGildas that was a typo. You can't say "un tapette". –  hoang Nov 5 '12 at 17:06
I like it when comments don't have time to become obsolete. <this will be soon removed> –  Nikana Reklawyks Nov 5 '12 at 17:07
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