1. He's as stupid as his feet
Con comme ses pieds. The English equivalent of this insult could be “as thick as a plank”. According to historical records, the French version first appeared in the 19th century. Feet became symbolic for stupidity because they’re the furthest part of the body from the brain.
Photo: Greg Pye/Flickr
2. She's a French blood sausage!
C'est un gros boudin. Let's just say boudin (French blood sausage) is an acquired taste. Given it's reputation it's perhaps no surprise then that 'boudin' is also French slang for an ugly woman or an old prostitute. Use with caution.
Photo: Gilles Péris y Saborit/Flickr
3. She farts higher than her bottom
Elle pète plus haut que son cul. When someone is showing off, this is a surefire way to bring them back down to the ground.
Photo: Chad Horwedel/Flickr
4. Your mother's so small her head smells of feet
Ta mère est tellement petite que sa tête pue des pieds. Just like the British and the Americans, the French love dragging each others’ mothers into shouting matches. It’s a stiff competition, but this particular insult is possibly the mother of all mother jokes.
Photo: Kamilla Oliveira/Flickr
5. You're a wet chicken
T'es une poule mouillée. Here's how French people might refer to a coward, similar to how we call someone a “chicken”. This one is very popular with the youngsters.
6. You've turned into a dish cloth!
Tu es devenu une lavette. You may have worked out from the verb “laver” that this noun has something to do with cleaning – and technically you wouldn't be wrong. But as well as meaning dish cloth “lavette” can be used to refer to a girl who lacks courage and energy.
7. He fills me up with shit
Il m'emmerde lui. When someone is really getting on your nerves, the French prefer to say the individual is filling them up with “merde”. Another way to say it is “il me fait chier” which means “he makes me crap”.
8. You smoked sausage!
Andouille! Yet another form of sausage has taken on more meanings in the French language. Whilst in English we might jokingly call someone a “silly sausage”, in France “Andouille”, a form of smoked sausage, is also used for a person who is nonchalant or just plain lazy.
Photo: Dietrich Ayala/Flickr
9. Knot head (or dickhead to be more precise)
Tête de noeud: This insult has nothing to do with having knotty hair. A more accurate translation of Knot head would in fact be the English insult “dickhead”.
10. You're a badly-groomed merino sheep!
Espèce de mérinos mal peignés. You may be a fan of Captain Haddock’s famous expletives in the English translation of the Tintin books, but have you ever wondered how they sound in the original French? This expletive refers to a Spanish breed with a distinctive bushy hair-do.
11. You badger!
C'est vraiment un blaireau, celui-là. Those of you who abide religiously by the more classic style of French dictionary might want to listen up. This insult can be all too easily misconstrued. Blaireau may be French for badger and shaving brush but it is also equally used to call someone an idiot.
You badger. Photo: Sally Longstaff/Flickr
12. You speak French like a Spanish cow!
Tu parles français comme une vache espagnole: Confusingly, this insult has nothing to do with sounding Spanish or like a cow. It simply means your accent needs a bit of work.
Another version of this story was first published in 2013.