se renvoyer la balle

“Se renvoyer la balle” is a wonderful figurative French expression that translates literally to “to pass the ball”. English meanings include the following:

  • to pass the buck
  • to pass the parcel

A French definition on abc states the expression means: “Se rejeter les responsabilités les uns sur les autres”, to reject responsibility between individuals. Said a bit differently, “renvoyer la balle à quelqu’un” means to blame somebody else.

Here’s an example sentence:

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  • Les chômeurs téléphonent sans cesse au gouvernement pour l’assurance-chômage mais les départements n’arrêtent pas de se renvoyer la balle. The unemployed are calling the government for unemployment benefits non-stop but the departments won’t stop passing the buck.

Here are two more great expressions for renvoyer la balle:

  • rejeter la faute sur qqnto put the blame on somebody else
  • faire porter le chapeau à qqnto make somebody else wear the hat

more French expressions

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