French Word of the Day: rude

For the first of The Local's French Word of the Day series we look at what the French mean when they use the word 'rude'. And it's very different to how it's used in English.

French Word of the Day: rude
Photo: Depositphotos
Why have we chosen the word “rude”? 
In the French press last year, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme was quoted as describing this year's race as “rude”
This tricky false friend is commonly used and often used in the French headlines (see below) which got us thinking about what it really means, which is very different from “bad-mannered” or “impolite”.
So, what exactly did Prudhomme mean?
Prudhomme's full quote was, “C'était un Tour de France rude”.
Looking back at the tournament, he said that it was “rude” in many respects, which probably won't come as a surprise to anyone who followed cyclist Chris Froome's anti-doping case which preceded the event, the use of tear gas at a farmers' protest, the verbal abuse of Team SKY riders, which temporarily halted the race and the accusations of French bashing.
While the French word “rude” can translate as “tough” or “gruelling”, Prudhomme didn't just mean physically for the riders but everything that went around it.
So in this case we could probably favour synonyms for “tough” such as “difficult”, “arduous”, “testing” or even “challenging”.
It is often used in French with “rude épreuve” which would translate as “tough test” or “harsh test”.

But it has other meanings…
One of the reasons “rude” can be such a tricky word to translate is due to the fact that it has multiple meanings — none of which are the same as its English counterpart. 
In a different context, for example, it can mean “tremendous”, “formidable” and “impressive”. 
And if it is being used to describe someone's appetite as in “un rude appétit”, it means “healthy appetite.” 
Here are some examples of how to use “rude” in everyday French. 
1. Le manque d'eau dans les régions arides rend la vie rude.
The lack of water in arid regions makes life hard.
2. Ce joueur est rude en mêlée.
This player is formidable in the scrum.
3. Ton frère a un rude appétit!
Your brother has a formidable appetite!
(All examples from
If you have a tricky French word you want us to include in our French Word of the Day series, please email [email protected]

French phrases that language learners just don't getPhoto: Gustavofrazao/Depositphotos

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French Expression of the Day: Un de ces quatres

The perfect response to that invitation you don't really want to say a firm yes to.

French Expression of the Day:  Un de ces quatres

Why do I need to know un de ces quatres?

Because you will probably hear this phrase while trying to make plans with someone in French

What does it mean?

Un de ces quatres – usually pronounced uhn duh say cat-truhs – translates exactly to “one of these fours.” If taken literally the phrase really does not make any sense in French or English. But in actuality, it means “one of these days,” “at some point,” or just “soon.”

This expression is a shortening of “one of these four mornings to come,” which was first used in the second half of the 19th century. It designates a time that is sometime in the near future, but still rather indeterminate.

In French, the number ‘four’ is often used in expressions to refer to imprecise, or small, quantities. Some people say this is because four is the number for the seasons and cardinal points (North, South, East, West), so saying ‘one of these four’ shows a level of ambiguity. But unfortunately we don’t really know exactly how (or why) this phrase arose.

If you want another way of saying this, you can always stick with the regular “un de ces jours” (one of these days).

Use it like this

J’ai été tellement occupée ces derniers temps mais nous devrons prendre un verre un de ces quatres. – I’ve been so busy lately, but we have to grab a drink one of these days.

Il m’a dit qu’il nettoierait la salle de bain un de ces quatres, donc je suppose que ça n’a pas encore été fait. – He told me he would clean the bathroom one of these days, so I guess it hasn’t been done yet.