Tomber dans le panneau

Tomber dans le panneau
Photo courtesy of the USGS
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Informal French Expression

Meaning to fall for it, to be gullible
Literally to fall in the trap
Register informal
Pronunciation French sound files [to(n) bay da(n) leu pah noh]
IPA   [tɔ̃ be dã lə pa no]

Usage notes: You might wonder what a sign or panel—the most common meaning of un panneau—has to do with being gullible, and the answer is … absolutely nothing.

The expression tomber dans le panneau refers to a completely different and little-known meaning of the word: a small mist net, which is used for catching birds. If you extend that meaning to "trap," it’s easy to see how this expression means to be tricked into believing something that isn’t true, to be so gullible as to get caught in a figurative trap. 

Par exemple…

Il a prétendu être riche et je suis tombée dans le panneau.   He told me he was rich and I fell for it.
Ah non, nous n’allons pas tomber dans le panneau !   Oh no, we’re not going to fall for that one!

Variation: donner dans le panneau

Somewhat synoymous

  • duper – to dupe, deceive, fool
  • escroquer – to swindle, con
  • être crédule – to be gullible
  • être naïf – to be naive, gullible
  • tromper – to trick, fool
  • arnaquer – to swindle, trick, con
  • avoir quelqu’un – to get someone, to sting someone (e.g., tu m’as eu – you got me)
  • être jobard – to be gullible
  • pigeonner – to dupe

 Related lessons

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Tomber dans le panneau
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1 Response

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