I was flabbergasted how my colleague hadn't even heard of a certain app I thought virtually anyone at my age would be familiar with – unless they are living in the Stone Age.

I wanted to say jokingly in French:

In case you're living under a rock, this app allows you to ...

In English, you use this expression to tease a person who doesn't even know the first thing about what seems like common knowledge today, seemingly oblivious to anything but their interests, or perhaps simply preferring a secluded, hermit way of life.

Below is what I actually said to her, but I couldn't come up with something more straightforward right there and then. How do you idiomatically express this "living under a rock" idea in French?

Quoi ?! Qu'est-ce que ça te coûte de sortir un peu plus souvent, ma petite troglodyte ! ...

  • 5
    "Vivre dans une grotte". And I'd like to add there is a meme on the French Internet which consists on adding many elements to that cave to make it even more out of the world: "you live in a cave with armour-plated walls under an ocean guarded by the Kraken". jeuxvideo.com/pizza_yolo_2/forums/message/174065615
    – Destal
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 16:27
  • 2
    You should be careful with idioms, they don't always translate well. For example, as recently pointed out to me, "poking the bear" in San Francisco may have a totally different interpretation than other localities :-)
    – user12859
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 5:10
  • I can’t think of an idiomatic French equivalent of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” character (hence the comment) but if there is one (“Rip, le grand dormeur”?/cf: “La Belle au bois dormant”?), perhaps using it to invoke the notion of someone being a “revenant” after sleeping/snoring (or just “being away”) for a very long time (or just long enough to miss an important event, like the comatose mother in the great film “Good Bye Lenin!”) would be understood: e.g., “T’es ‘Rip le grand dormeur’/‘La Belle au bois dormant’ ou quoi, toi, pour pas connaitre cette application?”
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 18:29
  • I might be wrong, but I think 'living under a rock' means to be unaware of the outside world - as an insect, a toad or a hermit might be - rather than being in the stone age. So the troglodyte reference is not an exact translation of the idea...
    – paul
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 12:44
  • @PapaPoule What you're looking for is "Hibernatus" from the 1969 movie (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibernatus) (youtube.com/watch?v=QoQrFAqkZkw). Fun to watch!
    – user21018
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 7:07

12 Answers 12


I think the idiomatic expression is:

Tu vis dans une caverne ou quoi ?

Variation courtesy of TonioElGringo:

Tu vis dans une grotte ?

('ou quoi' can be left implicit also)

Literally 'Are you living in a cavern or what ?'. The wording is not syntactically correct as it should be 'Vis tu' and not 'Tu vis', but this is an usual formulation for this expression.

Another variant could be:

Tu es resté au moyen-âge ?

This one is a little off from the rock idea, literally: 'Are you still living at middle ages ?'. It is mostly used to tease people uncomfortable with newer technologies.

  • 7
    Also, you can say "vivre dans une grotte", with the same meaning. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 14:57
  • 1
    @TonioElGringo Indeed, I assume 'être resté au moyen âge' can fit the meaning also (should I add those alternatives in my answer ?)
    – Tensibai
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 14:59
  • @Tensibai I think it's always a good idea to update answers with extra options suggested in comments if they definitely add something. (Sometimes I'll say "Or, as so-and-so mentioned...")
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 15:15
  • 1
    Middle age is what you experience when you hit 50 years old (-ish). The middle ages (which seems to make more sense at least in English) are a totally different beast.
    – user12859
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 5:08
  • 1
    @MatthieuM. Well all variations are possible, I even heard it with 'un puits' (a well), we (French) are quite liberal with the location and it may vary from area to area with local dialects also.
    – Tensibai
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 12:10

Tu vis dans une caverne ou quoi ? sounds great in my opinion, another expression of the same kind would be:

Sors de chez toi un peu !

Tu ne sors jamais de chez toi, ou quoi ?

  • 1
    True, and that seems to capture the broader question in @Alone-zee's second-last paragraph. Could that apply to an app, though? After all, technology hardly requires getting out of your house. ;) (I'm mentally equating it to "You should get out more" in English.)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 15:06
  • 2
    @Luke Haha, you are right. But the expression is so well known that even in this context, I think it remains perfectly understandable.
    – Mistalis
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 15:13
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    @LukeSawczak It just so happens that I actually said to her: « Quoi ?! Qu'est-ce que ça te coûte de sortir un peu plus souvent, ma petite troglodyte ! ». The point you have raised about "sortir" didn't occur to me then. ;) Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 15:44
  • 2
    @Alone-zee: Much better than any other hypothetical beaten-to-death phrasing you might be looking for :-) I migth even say that imagination like this is typical of idiomatic French communication anyway. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 20:20

Another possibility would be:

Tu débarques ou quoi ?

Which in the context could give:

Alors pour celles qui débarquent, cette application ...

Here I would use a general tone while talking to someone in particular to reinforce the ridiculous side of the situation. However this can seem rude if you don't know the person very well.

  • 2
    Pourquoi 'pour celles'? Pour une locution générique on dirait 'pour ceux', le masculin l'emporte quand quand on veut faire une généralité (ce qui serait le cas ici). Utiliser la forme féminine à un côté machiste même si l'interlocuteur est une femme, surtout que la formulation est déjà légèrement aggressive
    – Tensibai
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 21:04
  • Tous simplement parce que dans la question il relate une conversation où il parle à une femme. Donc dans ce contexte en généralisant je met "celles" et pas "ceux". Mais c'est un choix personnel, les deux sont possibles bien entendu.
    – Ratbert
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 16:51
  • 1
    @Tensibai Non, il n'y avait pas la moindre volonté de machisme dans ma réponse. Je suppose que si l'on est suffisamment proche de son interlocutrice pour l'appeler sa "petite troglodyte" alors cette manière de parler ne sera pas interprétée comme du machisme. Surtout qu'on ne sait pas quel est le sexe de la personne qui parle.
    – Ratbert
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 20:45
  • 1
    Je trouve que "Celles" est justement très bien ici car, c'est à contre-courant du générique "Ceux" naturellement attendu, et on voit alors bien la (gentille) ironie (petite pique) qui vise expressément la destinataire.
    – Evariste
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 12:08
  • 1
    Non, je pense que le "mix" féminin et pluriel démontre justement le ton railleur : on a une formulation impersonnel (pluriel) tout en ciblant bien l'interlocutrice (féminin). La blague tomberait à plat avec un singulier : autant dire alors "comme tu débarques..."
    – Evariste
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 15:30

Pour ceux qui ont pas mal de lustres au compteur l'expression qui vient spontanément est sortir de sa cambrousse.

Lu sur un forum :

  • Y en a pas sur mon téléphone, je fais comment ?
  • tu sors de ta cambrousse petit paysan du sud ?

Dans un roman :

Eh bien, mon vieux, me disait-il, on voit bien que tu sors de ta cambrousse ! Qu'est-ce qu'on t'apprend donc là-bas.

Ce qui donnerait dans le contexte de la question :

Au cas où tu sortes de ta cambrousse ...

La cambrousse c'est un endroit isolé dans la campagne, supposé être loin de la civilisation. Son emploi est toujours péjoratif.

Voici ce que dit le Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (Alain Rey) sur ce mot :

Le mot, d'abord attesté (1821) dans l'expression garçon de cambrouse « voleur de grand chemin », a développé d'une manière peu claire son sens moderne de « province » (1836), « campagne » (1844) en argot puis dans le langage familier. Ce sens serait peut-être né dans l'argot des saltimbanques à partir de celui de « baraque de forains » (à comparer à cambrousier « marchand forain », 1837) dans des expressions telles que courir la cambrouse ou par garçon de cambrouse, qui aurait d'abord signifié « garçon logé dans un bouge ».

  • 2
    You may want to add a bit of English for explanations. I'm quite sure the expression "avoir pas mal de lustres au compteur" isn't well-known of most English-speaking people. It isn't even well-known of all French-speaking people, even though it is understandable for them.
    – Rafalon
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 14:39
  • 2
    @Rafalon OP's French is very good and has already told me they're fine with answers in French. Why Alone-zee keeps asking their questions in English is a mystery to me. A lot of people come here to learn French so the least we can do, when possible of course, is to write answers in French to stretch them a bit further. When English is needed people ask. I know this OP would ask anyway.
    – None
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 14:48
  • 1
    Very well then :) I'm not really used to this stackexchange, I thought answers were supposed to be in English
    – Rafalon
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:31
  • 1
    @Rafalon See this discussion on Meta.
    – None
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:36
  • 1
    @DavidConrad The modern spelling is cambrousse, I can't find a missing s but I might just not spot it (I've just seen a missing m). In the historical part it is spelt cambrouse because that's the original spelling , it only started being spelt cambrousse in 1866 under the influence of brousse. I did not deem it necessary to develop further the etymology of the word since the question is not on that word ; my point was to explain a word that could fit the answer but that might not be understood to all since, as I said, it's not so much used by the younger generations.
    – None
    Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 5:51

I don't know if this is the most common or idiomatic expression but I would say:

À moins que tu ne sois resté bloqué en 2005*, cette application te permet de...

*This date can, of course, change according to the context and the subject of the conversation.

I could express my surprise by saying:

Comment t'as fait pour passer à côté ?

This is quite similar to @Tensibai 's answer with the cavern, which is also a common expression.

  • "resté bloqué en 2005" This sure is an interesting turn of phrase! Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 15:46
  • 2
    "Tu vis en 2005 ou quoi ?" is another variant that sounds more funny. And if you take a closest date, it could be even more funny, pointing the fact that the Apps-world moves so fast: "Tu es tellement 2016 !".
    – Evariste
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 12:16
  • @Evariste Good point! ;) Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 12:08

Your first sentence:

In case you're living under a rock, this app allows you to ...

would translate into:

Au cas où tu habites dans une grotte : cette application permet de...

That's by far the closest and idiomatic translation.
As for the one yout finally sent to your friend:

Quoi ?! Qu'est-ce que ça te coûte de sortir un peu plus souvent, ma petite troglodyte !

I'd say:

Tu ne connais pas ?! Tu habites dans une grotte ou quoi ?

I like that version with "grotte" (more than the other ones provided in other answers, that are also good but less good IMO, like "tu vis dans la Creuse", "tu débarques", "tu sors de ta cambrousse", "tu vis sur une île déserte") because:

  1. I think it's the most common/understandable.
  2. Some people may get wrong the expressions referring to a real places where actual people live, like "Creuse" or "cambrousse".
  3. You immediately picture someone living at the Stone Age.
  4. It may also convey the idea of Plato's Cave.

What you sent has 2 things that are a bit weird/not really idiomatic in a casual relationship:

  1. "Qu'est-ce que ça te coûte de sortir un peu plus souvent" may sound a bit aggressive, and does not match the joking/casual tone you wanted. This expression is used when there's actually something to really blame about.
  2. "troglodyte" is a funny word but seldom used in a casual chat.

Also note that the whole "ma petite troglodyte" may be seen as flirting... but maybe that was the intent...

  • 1
    Merci. I figured that "Qu'est-ce que ça te coûte" by itself might sound a little aggressive (intentionally, by the way), as you pointed out, so I added "ma petite troglodyte" to relax the tone. Do you think it's still a bit too much, even between friends? ;) Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 12:15
  • Define "friend"! :) "ma petite troglodyte" has 3 "innuendoes": 1. "ma" is definetely the language of flirting. 2. "petite" may be interpreted as "cute". 3. "troglodyte", as it's a funny word, may be seen as an attempt to give her a cute nickname, and setup a game between you. It probably balances the whole sentence to the "flirt" side... unless your friend knows French is not your native tongue.
    – Evariste
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 12:21
  • Oh, I see! We are close enough to swap jokes, by the way. Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 12:23

Bon, je t'explique, Hibernatus, l'appli, là, elle…

I wonder though if the reference to the old Louis de Funès movie (1969) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoQrFAqkZkw) (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibernatus) would be understood by everyone.

  • +1 for this answer. No native speaker, forty years old, but I got the reference. Great movie by the way:-)!
    – Dimitris
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 10:50

One could sometime say:

Il est terré dans son terrier.


Il s'est terré dans son terrier.

(he holed up [himself] in his hole/burrow?)

But it is more about someone that don't go out much and less about being "out of touch".

  • 2
    Variation: 'Il reste terré' without reference to the 'terrier'
    – Tensibai
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 13:29
  • Having 2 words based on "terre" in a 6-word sentence sounds wrong: in French, we tend to avoid reapetitions, and 2 words with the same ethymology se are considred repeated.
    – Evariste
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 12:04
  • @Evariste well, I am french and that is the version I heard the most ^^ Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 13:39
  • I'm French as well, and I've never heard that one. Google seems doubtfull as well: google.fr/search?q=%22terr%C3%A9+dans+ton+terrier%22 (4) vs google.fr/search?q=%22tu+vis+dans+une+grotte%22 (15000).
    – Evariste
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 13:54
  • Trou? Je ne sais pas exactement si le trou réfère uniquement dans mon sociolecte de manière argotique au logis mal famé ou au figuré pour une simplification du terrier etc.. C'est à vérifier dans le vôtre si ça vous semble utile. Merci.
    – user3177
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 18:08

Literal translation is used commonly in French :

Au cas où vous viviez dans une grotte, sachez que cette application vous permet de...

  • 1
    L'emploi de si ne fait pas de cette réponse une traduction de la phrase proposée dans la question. Réponse pas claire.
    – None
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:45
  • Mettre plutôt "Au cas où vous viviez dans une grotte, sachez que cette application vous permet de..." Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 16:25
  • Tu peux éditer ta question et la modifier.
    – None
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 16:29
  • merci Laure pour la suggestion, j'ai corrigé Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 8:21

Je dirais :

  • Vivre en ermite
  • Vivre dans une grotte/caverne
  • Vivre enfermé
  • Vivre sur une île déserte
  • Vivre dans la Creuse

A propos de ce dernier exemple, je me demandais si c'était mes préjugés qui parlais, et j'ai donc fait une recherche pour trouver un département encore moins dynamique. Il se trouve que la Creuse est le département avec le plus petit PIB par habitant de france.


In rural places, people also sometime say:

Tu sors de ton champ ?

as in "Did you just leave your field?"

  • Actually, this kind of rural insult (see 'cambrousse' above) is mostly used by Parisians.
    – user13512
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 18:28
  • 1
    Interesting, I guess it's used a bit differently depending on the place. I'm from a small town in Brittany and we sometime use this as a joke. It's not really disparaging around here since most people have parents or grand parents who worked in farms.
    – laurent
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 19:37
  • 1
    I'm mostly comparing with usage in other countryside, in the Center or in the Southwest. It's not like people there don't occasionally joke about being from the country, but that disparaging insistence on it is seen much more in Paris. There not long ago many if not most people were also one or at most two generations removed from their fields, but very intent on distinguishing themselves from that horrible fate :-).
    – user13512
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 21:46
  • No s on the singular of "champ".
    – Evariste
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 12:06

French/Canadian here. Just wanted to say that it is pretty simple. The translation of:

In case you're living under a rock, this app allows you to ...


Au cas où tu vivrais sous une roche, cette application te permettra de ....

In case you're == Au cas où tu

living under a rock == vivrais sous une roche

this app allows you to == cette application te permettra de...

  • 8
    French/French here. As with many expressions, Canadian French uses a literal translation of an English expression, but if you use this in France you'll only get looks of incomprehension. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:03
  • Yep, sounds definitely Canadian. I can almost imagine the accent from here ;) I would of course understand the meaning immediately, but this doesn't sound "natural" to me. Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 22:38
  • 1
    C'est objectivement une simple traduction mot à mot, un calque. J'ai demandé à quelqu'un du Qc. qui ne parle pas anglais et on ne comprend pas immédiatement. Si on connaît l'idiome de langue anglaise on comprend, et ce peut être plus fréquent ici qu'ailleurs. Mais si on avait employé sous la, on aurait pu se demander s'il s'agissait d'une référence à la dépendance au crack, on pense à vivre sous la domination/dictature, puisqu'on parle français. Autrement on aurait pu peut-être investiguer la coquille, différente. Merci !
    – user3177
    Commented Jun 24, 2017 at 18:04

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