La tête en bas, la tête baissée.
lah tet tah bah, la tett bay-SAY. Click below to hear this.*
That’s right! Both French phrases mean the same thing! How to know which to use?
In this case, it’s easy. The English actually has two meanings: head down, feet up and head bent downwards. In the first case, let’s say, you are dangling from the jungle gym on the playground, your hair grazing the wood chips on the ground and your knees bent over the bar: la tête en bas, head downwards.
In the second case, you are hanging your head. You are ashamed, humble, hiding a lie, embarrassed, worried that you are about to step on some bubblegum… la tête baissée, head lowered.
In English, context usually clarifies the meaning, or we use different words: eyes on the ground, for instance. If you don’t want to have to choose, practice making eye contact. Heads up!
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: