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Inspired by Razzie Awards for the worst cinematic under-achievements (aka Golden Raspberry Awards), I was wondering how to render the word "raspberry" in French, as in the expression "blowing a raspberry" (in AmE also called "razz" or "Bronx cheer"). To my surprise, although the word is common in other Romance languages (e.g., "pernacchia" in Italian and "pedorreta" in Spanish), I could not find any precise French translation. Indeed, the French Wikipedia page explains the origin of the name of the award as follows:

Le mot anglais raspberry (framboise) est utilisé en référence à l'expression « blowing a raspberry », qui signifie « faire un bruit de dérision », semblable à celui du pet.

Is the word actually missing in French? Isn't there any better and more precise way (perhaps even colloquial or slangy) to indicate a "razz" other than "faire un bruit de dérision, semblable à celui du pet"?

2 Answers 2

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The used to be a word in French that could be used to say it: pétarade but this meaning is outdated:

B. − P. anal.
1. Vx. "Bruit qu'on fait de la bouche, par mépris pour quelqu'un. Il lui a fait une pétarade" (Ac. 1835, 1878).
Au fig., fam. "Il m'a répondu par une pétarade. Il n'a fait aucun cas de ce que je lui ai dit" (Ac. 1835, 1878).

I'm afraid you'll have to use a periphrasis, like faire pfrrt avec la bouche found in this document:

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Source. Les dispositifs de formation langagière : quels outils pour le développement de l’autonomie des femmes migrantes ?

Prrt might be closer to the expected sound, especially this recording.

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  • Larousse gives the definition "faire pfft", for "to blow a raspberry", confirming your answer. But Wiktionnaire seems to indicate that "pfft" doesn't always mean the same sound as a raspberry (listen to the sound clips). Nov 13, 2022 at 12:38
  • Thanks. Any idea why the word "pétarade" became outdated? The meaning you report seems to be exactly the one I was looking for (although the primary meaning seems to be to "backfire"). Finally, let me remark that the two answers and the comment written so far report several onomatopoeic words ("pff", "pfff", "pfrrt", and "pfft") which vary only very slightly but may carry different meanings... and yet none of them is a proper word!
    – Maiaux
    Nov 13, 2022 at 15:46
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    The word is still in use, only this precise meaning is outdated. Its usual modern one is any kind of repeating noise, like the one made by an engine that doesn't run very smoothly or a series of firecracker blasts. Yes, pfff and the likes are onomatopoeias the spelling of which is not fixed.
    – jlliagre
    Nov 13, 2022 at 17:39
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I'm afraid this does not have the same meaning in French nowadays.

The English "raspberry" sound in French is often used to colloquially mean Je ne sais pas / Je n'en sais rien / aucune idée while raising shoulders (haussement d'épaules). I can't manage to find a source for this one but it's really commonplace in oral speech.

For expressing contempt, as far as I know it's more a pff that will be used:

https://fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/pff

https://www.thelocal.fr/20190506/french-word-of-the-day-pfff/

https://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/pff/60059

Maybe both can be traced back to a common ancestor as the meaning is somewhat close (I don't know / I don't care etc.).

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  • Thanks. As far as I can tell, the sound you refer to is a soft sound made with the lips (and indeed the meaning is "don't know"/"don't care"), not a loud sound made with the tongue, as in the case of a "raspberry" (which indicates derision). Does at least the lip sound you refer to have a common name in French?
    – Maiaux
    Nov 13, 2022 at 15:36
  • Ok I understand what you mean @Maiaux . The (quite similar) sound made with tongue is mainly used in France by children making "grimaces", usually with a hand gesture like on this picture : images.app.goo.gl/m1KSwHM1asc41VmN9.
    – XouDo
    Nov 13, 2022 at 21:34

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