Rihanna says her “Rebelle Fleur” neck tattoo wasn’t a mistake


I can’t believe Rihanna’s dumb neck tattoo is a two day story. But it is, so here goes. A few days ago, Rihanna went in and got a neck tattoo that read (in cursive) “Rebelle Fleur”. Yesterday, PopEater and other sites ran stories about how in French, this is completely wrong. Apparently, it should be “Fleur Rebelle”. While in English we say rebellious flower (putting the adjective before the noun), in French and other languages, you put the adjective after the noun. Flower Rebellious. Eh. Anyway, OK! Magazine has a piece today claiming that Rihanna intended the tattoo to read exactly as it does — Rebel Flower. Two nouns, she claims.

After photos appeared of Rihanna’s new tattoo — which reads “Rebelle Fleur” — Internet pedants claimed that it was “gibberish” because she got the French phrasing wrong.

Au contraire, says Rihanna.

While Gawker.com argued that, since the adjective usually comes before the noun in French, the phrase that was inked on RiRi’s neck last week should say “Fleur Rebelle.”

But in a text message that she sent to her tattoo artist Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy — which has been leaked exclusively to OK! — the “Rude Boy” singer says that the tat is right on the money.

She even predicted that the press would try to call her out on it!

She wrote: “rebelle fleur translates to rebel flower, NOT rebelious flower, its 2 nouns so in that case fleur does not HAVE to be first! Fyi, cuz they will ask”.

So it turns out Rihanna knows more about French than those hoity toity writers at Gawker do! We’d say “touché,” but we don’t really know French.

[From OK! Magazine]

Eh, I kind of see her point, and I’ll concede the issue, mainly because I don’t really care. I wish someone would take her to task for the stupidity (in general) of the neck tattoo.

In other Rihanna news, she and Ke$ha apparently rocked Madison Square Garden last night, with lots of celebs in attendance. MTV News has more here.

NEW YORK - AUGUST 12: Singer Rihanna performs at Madison Square Garden on August 12, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

A tattoo is seen on the side of singer Rihanna's neck as she performs at Madison Square Garden in New York August 12, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)



Rihanna on August 10 & 12, 2010. Credit: WENN.

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60 Responses to “Rihanna says her “Rebelle Fleur” neck tattoo wasn’t a mistake”

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  1. snowball says:

    Her outfits get uglier and uglier. She’s like a Wal-Mart Christmas tree Judy Jetson.

    She’s just making crap up to cover what an idiot she is about the tat. And you’re right. A neck tattoo? I guess to match the one she’s got running around the back of her neck.

  2. Wench says:

    I don’t understand how suddenly got to be a superstar.

    Genuinely; was Umbrella the turning point? I much preferred her Pon De Replay days – I’m not so keen now. She annoys me and I don’t know why.

  3. Zelda says:

    YEs, but in French, from what I remember, you can’t USE a noun as an adjective like you can in English.

    That is to say that two nouns next to each other would be just that–two objects. As though she had tattoed “rebel, flower”

    This is the case in most languages and I THINK French operates like this. Someone more fluent than me out there for some insight? When I do use French, I’d never use a noun as an adjective, but I rarely use mine anymore for more than hotel booking and taxis…

  4. lena says:

    so shouldn’t there be a common between it?

  5. Lisa says:

    Oh of course it wasn’t *rolling eyes*

    She doesn’t want to admit it’s wrong

  6. Mavourneen says:

    nah, it’s still wrong…

  7. TQB says:

    ooo, Flower Rebellious is an awesome superhero name. Stealing.

  8. Jeri says:

    I think she’s overdoing the tattoos, but I guess if they can cover Angelinas’ tatts they can cover Rhiannas’ if needed. I think she said a while back that she would like to act.

  9. Julie says:

    Wench: I just dont understand why she is a superstar either. She can’t sing, she can’t dance, she isnt the writer or producer of her songs, so I really don’t get why she is shuch a big thing. Umbrella might have been the turning point since it played and played and played forever, but I think that is her having Jay Z as godfather of her career, that pushed her to mainstream public. He decided he was going to help her and everyone around him did just that. Its the only reason I can think of. His influence in the biz put her where she is now. Not sure she deserved though.. So many talented people out there struggling to make it…

    • Sarah says:

      As someone that’s seen her in concert I completely disagree, I’m not that big a fan but when I saw her she had a fantastic voice and yes she has done acting. Im sick of you idiots hating, clearly you haunt made it anywhere near as much as she has so if she’s shit what does that make you?

    • Sarah says:

      As someone that’s seen her in concert I completely disagree, I’m not that big a fan but when I saw her she had a fantastic voice and yes she has done acting. Im sick of you idiots hating, clearly you havnt made it anywhere near as much as she has so if she’s shit what does that make you?

  10. Eleonor says:

    This is what happens when you get a tattoo in a language you don’t know.

  11. ering says:

    As someone with tattoos, I don’t consider them an invitation for the general public to comment on my body, but they do anyway. If you like my tattoos and you want to tell me, that’s fine, whatever. But if you don’t, I don’t really give a shit. But she’s a celebrity, so I’m sure Rihanna’s used to everyone having something to say about everything, and I read somewhere (dlisted?) that she told the artist beforehand that people were going to think it was wrong. It’s her body, and she’s the one who has to live with it, and she seems OK with it.

    Additionally, I majored in French in college, so I should probably be more bothered by the crappy grammar, but people mangle French all the time, so it’s not really surprising.

  12. Wench says:

    Julie – JAY-Z! Of course. It all makes sense now. Well, I’m definitely bored. On to the next.

  13. LindyLou says:

    Tatty McRoosterhead always seems to get a new tattoo when Lady Gaga is in the tabloids more than she is. She knows a quick tattoo job will get her attention and press…at least for now.

  14. aenflex says:

    Her neck and her body are so sexy. I don’t care for her personality competely, but her thick neck and muscular body are just to die for!

  15. Conando says:

    I third Wench & Julie’s comments, I don’t get the Rihanna hype at all. She’s mediocre at everything except somehow getting hit songs.

  16. Steeze says:

    @ Zelda, youre right.

    im fluent in french because i live in montreal. its weird to just put two nouns next to eachother like that. i think shes trying to cover up a mistake. fleure rebelle makes a lot more sense. and actually sounds kinda pretty…

    people please check with someone who is fluent before choosing a tattoo!!!

  17. elena says:

    While Gawker.com argued that, since the adjective usually comes before the noun in French, the phrase that was inked on RiRi’s neck last week should say “Fleur Rebelle.”
    - I think Gawker made a mistake: the adjective comes after the noun in French( fleur= noun, rebelle=adjective), not before, as it does in many languages of Latin provenience. Maybe the people there should not pretend to be more intelligent than the celebrities they make fun of, after all they also made a mistake.

  18. Isabelle says:

    @zelda : You’re absolutely right. French is my first language and her tattoo, and explanation, makes no sense in French. It would’ve been better if it had been “rebelle & fleur”, or something like this. The way it is now, it’s just two words put next to each other, with no link between them.

  19. orianne says:

    zelda is perfectly right. I am french and there’s not ONE possibility for these two words to make sense as she put them. I never understood how celebs could get a permanent tattoo wrong,but I guess she’s surrounded by idiots as well.how hard is it to get an accurate translation ? it’s just sad

  20. EMV says:

    If there are 2 nouns next to one another, I don’t care if it is French or not, there should be a comma in between…i think she just says that it was meant to be that way because she looked like a fool.

  21. Adena says:

    any one noticed yet Rebelle Fleur has as many lettes as Rihanna Fenty? :P

  22. hellen says:

    Reminds me of the kids in Tokyo with the mangled English language t-shirts. “Don’t worry! Be sex!” “Get a happy!”

    Yeah, I’d totally pull some “explanation” out of my ass too.

  23. Solveig says:

    I studied French for 8 years, and albeit I didn’t love it, I’m pretty sure her tattoo is completely wrong.
    In every romance languages (I don’t know about Romanian, though) the noun comes before the adjectives, except in some cases (as for the words bello/buono in Italian, Beau/Bon in French, correct me if I’m wrong).

    Edit: I’m seeing now that Zelda already explained it, better than me.

  24. émerveillement says:

    It still doesnt mean anything correct ! And I know since I AM French.

  25. Zelda says:


    The best one I ever saw was one in Moscow–
    It said Classbag on it.

    Another friend of mine bought one meant to look like a university shirt, and it said “Coleldge”

    And one I saw in my local market recently had a picture of a cat on it and said “Good kitty yumyum! Drinks her milk!” I’m pretty sure it was NOT a double entendre, but who knows.

  26. elena says:

    @Solveig: it’s the same in Romanian( I’m from there): first the noun and then the adjective. they can be reversed in special circumstances but as a rule this is the correct order.

  27. Jailbreak says:

    Haha, lamest explanation evah. It’s like if I was saying “yeah, I got “flakes corn” tatooed, but I didn’t mean corn flakes”, I think corn is great and I love the sound of “flake”, that’s it.

  28. Truthzbetta says:

    The photo of her doing the bathroom squat over an invisible yet suspicious toilet is better than her mangled tat.

    And if one says they’re a rock star, why is it that person can only sing it in rangeless pop?

    Is this French? Poseur

  29. emma says:

    well, she should know to check her tattoo beforehand, considering Rihanna has a missed Sanskrit tattoo on her side

  30. Amy says:

    It’s bad enough to have a misspelled tattoo on you, but it’s on her freaking NECK! Idiot — no one will ever stop bugging you about this.

  31. coup de grazia says:

    who gives a hell if it’s precisely correct according to a professor of french literature – it’s a tattoo, not a damn essay exam. it’s not like when one of these idiot celebs gets a chinese symbol that they think means “peace, love and understanding” when it really means “i eat dog shit for breakfast”. whatever she was going for, it’s close enough and it sounds pretty. also, plenty of tattoos (and other stuff) take poetic license with various languages, so it’s quite possible she did know it wasn’t perfect french, but liked it that way.

  32. fsfsdfs says:

    I can’t believe she is dumb enough to believe WE are dumb enough to buy this bullshit.
    Tell your PR shill to come up with something better than this next time Rihanna.

  33. d says:

    oh, ok, star pop.

  34. Angie says:

    Idiotic pretentious critics. Do they ever tire?

    By the way, her name is Rhianna Fenty. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out the significance; same initials, same amount of letters/syllables in both words. Clearly it is a bit of a ‘nickname’ for her, so two nouns is perfectly fine. Get ovah it!

  35. bb says:

    hehehe 4th picture down looks like she’s taking a dump in a urinal.

  36. Awkward Turtle says:

    Rihanna is such a rebel, she doesn’t need grammar!

  37. Lenore says:

    Yeah, it’s dumb, but then if she’s happy to spend the rest of her days with people pointing at her and snickering, who are we to judge? :D

  38. Linna says:

    all neck tats are a mistake no matter what they say.

  39. maxx says:


  40. Tia C says:

    Oh, honey, yes it was…

  41. Kim says:

    I believe her she is creative when it comes to tats. Remember the tat that you can only read when looking at it in a mirror.

  42. Phantom Goddess says:

    Maxx – she isn’t American. She’s from the Caribbean.

  43. Patrice says:

    Ummmm, not to point out the obnious (yet again), but isn’t the bigger issue here that there is no such freaking thing as a “REBELIOUS FLOWER”?! I get that RiRi wants to be all “edgy” or whatever, but this is just getting ridiculous…

  44. Amy says:

    I’m fluent in French and her tattoo is wrong. She should have just had it inked in English. Having two nouns strung together does not work in French. It should be fleur rebelle like other posters have mentioned. And it’s a really tacky tattoo anyways.

  45. mln says:

    her initials are RF-hence the two words so I am going to say although neck tatoos are lame she wins on this one and everyone should calm down

  46. Stephy2485 says:

    @ mln
    it’s he bod, her tatt

    Didn’t angelina jolie get one that said whiskey bravo for brads initials? it’s kinda clever actually…

  47. mely says:

    No i’m french and it really doesn’t mean anything

  48. Thinqi says:

    Her tatt, her neck…. She knew wat she was doin wen she was doin it… If u lyk it thn gr8 bt if u dnt thn leav her alone u dnt hav 2 live with the mis-spelled tatt she does!!!!

  49. Hushe says:

    @Thinqi: go back to school and learn ENGLISH.

  50. constance says:

    we are two french girls, you’ll see with all mistakes we’ll made to try write this letter in english but no, her tatoo is wrong, except if she wants two words: rebelle and fleur but if it’s a sentence it’s wrong it’s like for u blue eyes for us it’s yeux bleu and not bleu yeux… i hope it’s two words because it’s too bad for her to have a mistake on her neck …

  51. Marie says:

    I am a francophone, my first language is french and believe me, “Rebelle Fleur” means strictly nothing. It is a grammatical error and in no way these two words can be phrased in that order…

    Why would she want a tatoo meaning: “Rebel, Flower”.

    I feel like she made a mistake and she is now trying to get away with it!

  52. Boombeeba says:

    Dark red hair + Dark Skin = No Bueno, leave the platinum blonde & reddish tones for white skin. The same goes for Asians. Yellow skin + Blonde hair = ick

  53. jbfan says:

    i liked her when i was younger but i think she is really overdoing by the fact of the clothes she wears and those tats and the thing is she a barbadian and its very disappointing.

  54. lisa says:


  55. lisa says:

    and it wasnt a typo, how do you know that thats not the way she WANTED it?

  56. Salvi says:

    God, you people make me laugh with your “it’s close enough”..

    Imagine the same but in a reversed situation. Someone French getting a tattoo in English, of a sentence that doesn’t make any sense.
    Even if it had a good intention, it’s still really stupid to have something written all wrong TATTOOED on your body for the rest of your life…

    Just…. Check with 10 different sources that you have it right before getting it inked on your freakin’ neck hahaha!

  57. Jodie says:

    I think what’s really annoyed people – and it would annoy me if I were French – is that Rihanna seems to be taking the position that she knows better than native French speakers. The tattoo clearly doesn’t translate to “Rebel Flower”. I don’t speak French but most French commenters have pointed out that their language doesn’t operate the same way that English does and I’m certainly not going to argue.

    Don’t get me wrong, a tattoo is a personal thing and as long as this means something to Rihanna, I can’t see a problem. But I do find it rather offensive that she’s trying to say that the tattoo is correct.

    I’m not saying that Rihanna should be made to care about whether it’s correct but if she’s going to claim that, she should check with a professional translation agency first.

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