5 French insults that won’t start a fight but would still be considered rude

There are numerous ways to insult a French person. Tug on their beret, penetrate their mime box, cut a piece of cheese improperly, or take the ultimate risk and don’t look them in the eye while raising a glass.

In any case, Gymglish (online English course) is happy to showcase 5 French insults that would likely bring dishonor upon your house, which is annoying. Use at your own risk.

Beauf (\bof\)

The word beauf has two distinct meanings. One is an affectionate abbreviation of beau-frère meaning your brother-in-law, whilst the other is a colloquial term that describes a vulgar or unsophisticated person.  An English equivalent might be “a hick”, “a rube” or a “yokel”. This insult is thought to have originated in the 1970s, when a beauf referred to a French person lacking culture. This insult was and is, of course, often employed by condescendant Parisians to generalize about non-Parisians. Hey, ici c’est Paris.

Example: “Jean-Pierre est un vrai beauf. Il joue à la pétanque, écoute du Johnny Hallyday et boit du pastis du matin au soir.” – “Jean-Pierre is a real yokel. He plays pétanque, listens to Johnny Hallyday and drinks pastis from dawn till dusk.”

Naze (\naz\)

T’es vraiment un naze”. A charming and timeless French insult. Naze can be used to describe situations or people that appear to be idiotic, dumb or lame. There are far ruder words than naze, but do bear in mind that the word is said to be the shortened version of the word “nazi” (or “nasi”) which made reference to those suffering from syphilis in the 19th century. That’s… not great.

Example: “Anna devait acheter un pack de bières pour la soirée mais a pris du vin blanc à la place, quelle naze !”. “Anna was supposed to buy beers for the party but bought white wine instead. What a rube!” Harsh words, sir or madam, you know Anna is syphilitic.

Andouille (/ænˈdu.i/)

A French expert like yourself is probably aware that andouille is actually a famed, stinky pork sausage the French go crazy for, but the word is also an old-fashioned insult, roughly translated to “dummy”. Use this term to describe someone stupid or just plain lazy. While it is slightly outdated, andouille is a pretty effective rude word to use, and also kid-friendly for when you’re insulting the intelligence of your toddler. Note: you can also use it to criticize someone’s behavior “tu fais l’andouille”, literally “you’re acting like a fool”. You silly sausage.

Example: “Espèce d’andouille, tu as ramené des roulés aux saucisses à la soirée Vegan de Laura, t’es fou ou quoi ?” – “You dummy, you brought sausage rolls for Laura’s vegan dinner, what are you crazy?”

Chiant.e (\ʃjɑ̃\)

Slightly scatological in nature, this adjective is a mainstay in casual conversations. Figuratively translated as “annoying” or “boring”, this insult literally describes in the pain in the ass, or something “shitty”. Pardon our French. This word can refer to a sub-optimal person or situation and is decidedly pejorative. If you want to express displeasure, you could also use the word relou – the inverted slang (verlan) of lourd (heavy, awkward) common among French youngsters – which is basically the same thing, but carries a little bit of extra oomph. 

Example: “Les grèves RATP durent depuis des semaines, c’est vraiment chiant.” – “The train strikes in Paris have been going on for weeks, it’s a real pain in the ass.”

Blaireau (/blɛ.ʁo/)

Objectively the best French insult, a blaireau is literally a “badger”. Used colloquially, it’s an insult expressing that someone is a jerk, a moron and an imbecile at the same time. Funnily enough, the word describes an old-fashioned shaving brush. While we are fond of badgers at Gymglish, and find them to be excellent dinner guests, we’d advise you to avoid this sticky wicket unless you’re directly addressing a family of badgers.

Example: “David c’est un vrai blaireau, il a encore oublié d’apporter son CV pour son entretien d’embauche.” – “David is a real moron, he forgot yet again to bring his CV to his job interview.”

Bonus insult: Glandu (/ɡlɑ̃du/)

If someone calls you a glandu, it’s an insult to be worn with pride and another dangerously useful insult to add to your lexicon. This slang word makes reference to an uneducated, stupid person who doesn’t do much. Cultural note: Glandu is also the name of a famous radio presenter on NRJ. Personally, I won’t be listening, but if you’re caller number 5 you could win something crazy. Call now, standard phone rates apply.

Put*in de me*de that felt good! Swearing en français is an art in and of itself. Dying to learn more about how to insult a French person? Fret not, we’ve got you covered with Frantastique, fun and personalized online French courses.


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