French Word of the Day: Pourri

Want to know a great way for describing the things you don't like? If so 'pourri' could be the French word you've been looking for.

French Word of the Day: Pourri

Why should I learn pourri?

Pourri is a need-to-know word for describing bad apples of all kinds, as well as things you don’t like.  

What does it mean?

Translated directly pourri means ‘gone off’ or ‘rotten’ and is often used to describe food, for example if a market holder was trying you persuade you to buy some rotten tomatoes you could say: Non merci, ces tomates sont pourries! (‘No thanks, these tomatoes are rotten!’). 

Pourri is an adjective and as the tomatoes in the case above are feminine and plural, you add an –es to the end of the word.

Building on this meaning, pourri can also be used to describe a rotten person such as a ‘crook’, ‘bad apple’ or someone who is corrupt. You might hear someone say, Les hommes politiques sont souvent des pourris. (‘Politicians are often crooks.’) 

In extreme cases you might even hear someone described as pourri jusqu’à la moelle, or ‘rotten to the core’.

Finally, in familiar spoken French pourri is often used as a general way to say something is ‘rubbish’ or ‘lousy’. You could use it to describe pretty much anything from a film (Le film est pourri – ‘The film is rubbish’) to the weather (Quel temps pourri! – ‘What terrible weather!’) or even an accent (il a un accent pourri – ‘His accent is lousy.’)

Some other examples

Quel film pourri! – What a rubbish film.

Ce jeu vidéo est pourri. – This video game is rubbish.

Le flic était pourri jusqu’à la moelle. – The policeman was corrupt

(The above examples come from


For more French Expressions and French Words of the Day you can CLICK HERE to see our full list

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

You might do this while gardening or while reading the tabloids.

French Expression of the Day: Découvrir le pot aux roses

Why do I need to know découvrir le pot aux roses?

Because if you enjoy celebrity gossip, then you probably will find good use for this phrase

What does it mean?

Découvrir le pot aux roses – pronounced day-coov-rear le pot-oh rose – literally translates to ‘to discover the pot of roses.’ 

You might use this expression when finding out about some exciting gossip or maybe when discovering what your partner secretly planned for your anniversary, as this phrase in actuality is what you would say when you learn something secret or hidden. 

In English, when discussing secrets, you might say someone has ‘spilled the beans’ or ‘let the cat out of the bag,’ but the French phrase is more about the person who has found out about the hidden item or truth, not the person who told it, as it ‘spill the beans’.

The origins of this French expression are not what you might expect, historically, the phrase has little to do with the flowers.

During the Middle Ages, the verb ‘découvrir’ had the meaning of ‘to lift a lid’ and at the time the phrase ‘pot aux roses’ referred to a small box that wealthy women used to store their perfumes, as well as their makeup. They often used these boxes to keep secrets, letters, or notes that they did not want others to stumble upon.

Use it like this

Pendant l’afterwork, Sarah a raconté à tout le monde les secrets les plus fous sur la vie privée du patron. Je ne comprends pas comment elle a réussi à découvrir le pot aux roses. – During the work happy hour, Sarah told us all about the wildest secrets of our boss’ personal life. I don’t understand how she managed to unearth that gossip.

Il a découvert le pot aux roses lorsqu’il s’est connecté à l’ordinateur de son colocataire pour regarder simplement son mail. – He discovered the secret when he logged onto his roommate’s laptop to just check his email.