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embêter (om-behtay) verb
1. to bother, to worry; to pester; to annoy; to bore
Also: s'embêter = to be bored
S'embêter, c'est s'insulter soi-même.
To be bored is to insult oneself. --Jules Renard
A Day in a French Life...
On my way to tuck in the kids the other night I discovered their lits* were empty. Pushing open the door to my room, I found Max and Jackie in my bed, backs to the wall, pillows propped behind le dos* for comfort. The two were dressed in their pajamas, Max in a green and blue plaid ensemble and Jackie in pink from head to toe. A faint scent of bubblegum-flavored toothpaste pervaded the air.
The bedtime bandits had turned on the reading lamps above the mismatched tables de nuit* and settled in with a book and a magazine which hid their faces from the nose down. When the bookworms did not crumble into a fit of giggles (as they usually do when I have caught them ditching dodo*) my brain tangled in confusion.
I pounced onto the bed, sure that they'd respond to a few side-splitting guili-guilis.* Preparing for the attack, my fingers curled mid-air and ear level, I approached the lifeless readers who remained as nonchalant as when I'd appeared two minutes earlier. When the kids didn't react, my arms froze before dropping to my sides in defeat. Silence.
When I barked like a dog the literati briefly looked up, only to raise their books eye-level, the slightest hint of irritation on their faces. I saw that Jackie was reading a paperback entitled "Max embête les filles" ("Max pesters the girls"). Her brother read the June issue of his favorite soccer review, "Super Foot Mag".
It occurred to me that I might be the dupe of Camera Caché*--that, at any moment, a sparkling-toothed director would spring into the room (via the open window) and reveal the farce.*
When the camera crew failed to leap over the window frame, I sat in silent awe thinking about the power of words and the joy of reading, witnessing the spell that so many French words, strung together in a line, had cast over my children.
Next, I selected a book from the leaning tower beside my bed, remembering the old adage: Si tu ne peux les battre, rejoins-les. If you can't beat them, join them. And so I did.
*References: le lit (m) = bed; le dos (m) = back; le dodo (from "dormir" "to sleep") (m) = (childspeak for bedtime); le guili-guili (m) = tickle tickle; Camera Caché = Candid Camera; une farce (f) = prank
Listen to my 8-year-old, Jackie, pronounce the word embeter: Download embeter.wav
Hear Jackie's sentence: "Arrête de m'embeter, Max!" Stop bugging me, Max!: Download embeter3.wav
ne pas s'embêter = to have fun
ne vous embêtez pas avec ça = don't worry about it
s'embêter comme un rat mort = to bored as a dead rat
j'embête, tu embêtes, il/elle embête, nous embêtons, vous embêtez, ils/elles embêtent (past participle = embêté)
More references to the French word "embêter" in these books: