In Czech, there is the expression "Dráždit hada bosou nohou" with the literal meaning of "provoking a snake by touching it with bare feet". We use this metaphorical, hyperbolic expression to emphasise the sheer foolhardiness, recklessness of someone's actions by taking unnecessary risks.

It is somewhat similar to the English expression "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" or "fools rush in" for short. I wonder how French speakers commonly express this kind of recklessness metaphorically?

  • Not sure if it is what you are looking for: jouer avec le feu (ie, to do or try to do something dangerous and ignore its potential dangerousness. Ex: "en armant les rebelles syriens, les USA jouent avec le feu"). Or possibly se jeter dans la gueule du loup (ie to rush foolishly in a trap or a dangerous position), but it involves moving to a place, whether in real life or metaphorically. Ex: "lorsque les Américains ont débarqué à Omaha Beach, ils se sont jetés dans la gueule du loup". If you think one of these is OK, I'll set it as answer. – Greg Nov 16 '17 at 12:43
  • @Greg Hi. Imagine, for instance, a corporate takeover, if you will. You venture into a hostile environment with the odds highly stacked against you. I think "dans la gueule du loup" is indeed one of fhose that fit the bill, especially as it's animal-related, too. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Nov 16 '17 at 12:57
  • That indeed matches this idea, but I see it fit only as the company that does the takeover is new to the industry (hence keeping this idea of "moving" to the mouth of the wolf). ex: "Microsoft rachète McDonald's et se jette dans la gueule du loup" may be ok because Microsoft moves to a new,unfamiliar competitive environement. "Microsoft rachète Apple" would not be "se jeter dans la gueule du loup": it is already in it (and, maybe is the wolf itself). – Greg Nov 16 '17 at 13:03
  • @Greg Maybe not suitable in the takeover context, but "tenter le diable" also came to mind which happens to have its equivalent in Swedish as well. Though "tenter le diable" might carry the connation of "n'ayant plus rien à perdre". So a bit too much, perhaps? Incidentally, in Japanese, "虎の尾を踏む", literally "tread on the tiger's tail", matches perfectly with this Czech expression. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Nov 16 '17 at 13:49
  • true, "tenter le diable" is quite similar to "jouer avec le feu". I don't really feel this nuance of "nothing to lose". – Greg Nov 16 '17 at 14:27

I'd say "s'aventurer en terrain dangereux" (literally : to venture into a risky place) The potential danger is seen by the locutor, but not always by the one who is doing the action

The action can be a risky conversation, a business operation, ... but i won't use it for something like jumping over a cliff. The expression is used for insidious risks, often social risks.


Besides "Jouer avec le feu" which was mentionned in many comments, I would propose:

C'est comme jouer à la roulette russe

this clearly conveys a great risk (while "jouer avec le feu" is more neutral)

I can't think of another very idiomatic expression like this, but from there your creativity is the only limit, like in any other language...

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