On arrête pas de lui dire que ..., mais ça rentre pas.

I want to say "he just doesn't get it" colloquially, but I wonder if this phrasing gets the job done right without an addtional phrase "ça rentre pas (dans ...)"?

I assume that dictionaries do not cover this particular "rentrer" usage.

  • The TLFi entry for "rentrer" does include an "Empl. abs." example, albeit positive & sort of passive, of "rentrait" by itself seeming to mean "something {le métier] finally 'being got/understood': − "Au fig., fam. Rentrer dans la tête. Être su, être admis. .... ♦ Empl. abs. Ainsi, approximativement et peu à peu, le métier «rentrait», comme on dit (Fombeure,Soldat, 1935, p. 20)"
    – Papa Poule
    Nov 30, 2017 at 20:16
  • @PapaPoule What's your take on some variants of this expression? E.g.: "ça refuse de me rentrer dans le crâne !" or "ça ne veut pas me rentrer dans le crâne !" I wonder if you can also drop the "dans ..." part in these two instances? Nov 30, 2017 at 20:42
  • The context would probably make it clear enough without the "dans ..." part, but be careful not to create (unless that's your intention) a "double-entendre" from the "c) Pénétrer avec son sexe" sense of "rentrer [dedans]"! For what it's worth, my favorite ways of saying "doesn't get it" come from variations of "n'en piger que dalle."
    – Papa Poule
    Dec 1, 2017 at 23:42
  • J'ai aussi entendu "il imprime pas" sans trop savoir si c'est plutôt un jargon de techniciens ou informaticiens ou plus communément admis.
    – LudoMC
    Dec 8, 2017 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


On arrête pas de lui dire que ..., mais ça rentre pas.

is perfectly idiomatic, albeit colloquial.

As to what it does not penetrate, here are some directions:

  • ça rentre pas dans sa caboche

  • impossible de lui rentrer ça dans le crâne

You can even convey the same idea with a positive phrase:

  • ça rentre par une oreille et ça ressort par l'autre...

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