French Language Blog

Un Cafard D’Eau – Accidentally Ordering Cockroach Water In French Posted by on Jul 25, 2018 in Vocabulary

Making mistakes is a big part of learning une nouvelle langue (a new language). Even after years of practice it can still be very easy to mix up two words that sound similar.

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

I went to une crêperie (a restaurant that sells crêpes) to have a nice dinner with some friends, il y a quelques semaines (a few weeks ago). When it was time to order I asked for une bouteille de vin (a bottle of wine), but wanted to make sure everyone had some water as well. I looked at le serveur (the waiter) and confidently asked :

Et un cafard d’eau, s’il vous plaît.
And a cockroach of water, please.

The look on the face of le serveur made it clear I had made a mistake. His reaction quickly me realize what I just said and I turned bright red. Heureusement (luckily), le serveur understood the mix up and made une blague (a joke) out of the situation.

Ce n’est pas ce type de resto !
It’s not that type of restaurant!

Everyone laughed and I no longer felt bad for making a mistake. I still wanted to clarify what I wanted to order, just in case there was any confusion. I looked back at le serveur and somewhat less confidently asked :

Une carafe d’eau, s’il vous plaît.
A carafe of water, please.

There was no issue and le serveur happily took my order.. The initial embarrassment of le malentendu (the misunderstanding) was intense and hard to get through, but it became un private joke between my table and le serveur. We had fun cracking jokes for the rest of the meal, but if I hadn’t made that simple mistake we never would have such a fun and memorable time!

Making such a public mistake also forces me to try extra hard to never mix up une carafe and un cafard ever again!

Le cafard – Cockroach
La carafe – Carafe, Container of water

Heureusement, when it came time for un digestif (after dinner drink), I didn’t make another silly mistake!

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


  1. MDM:

    I once confused “urgence” (emergency) with “emergence” (to emerge, come out of) while discussing a ladies room issue. The result was absolutely MORTIFYING.

  2. O:

    nom féminin
    (italien caraffa, peut-être de l’arabe gharaf, pot à boire, par l’intermédiaire de l’espagnol garrafa)