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In French, one can figuratively use the expression, “endormir quelqu'un," meaning that by using some lengthy/boring/loose explanation, we make the interlocutor less vigilant, thereby forgetting about a few things that you know they had in mind but that you want them to forget during the discussion (e.g. X knows that Y is going to complain about Z during a discussion, so X will talk in such a way that Y will forget or get confused and/or forget to mention or insist on Z).

Is there any equivalent English expression?

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It won't necessarily work in all contexts, but when it does fit, to lull someone into a false sense of security is a very common idiomatic usage. Perhaps in the specific context OP has in mind, the interlocutor becomes so relaxed and reassured he mistakenly thinks his concerns have been properly addressed, so he fails to explicitly bring them up and demand truly satisfactory answers. –  FumbleFingers Jun 10 at 23:33
    
Using the WordReference translation and your explanation also reminds me of the idiom bore someone to death, although this phrase isn't generally associated with the purpose of distracting someone. –  Samuel Lijin Jun 11 at 1:23

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

We speak of burying either the hearer or the matter to be avoided in facts/data/statistics/paperwork.

We also use an opposite image, drawn from dance: Dazzle 'em with footwork, meaning to discourse so eloquently and interestingly on another topic that hearers fail to observe that we have evaded the topic they are interested in.

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In English, this expression is known as changing the subject.

A person can also be dissuaded from remembering, but that is way too formal for regular conversation.

A better example would be to distract someone.

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Some alternatives:

Muddy the waters.

Put up a strawman.

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The translation I would use is, "Put someone to sleep." (As a distraction from the real issue.)

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