French Word of the Day: hurluberlu

French Word of the Day: hurluberlu
Photo: AFP
Yes this word does exist in French. Here's how to use it.

Why do I need to know hurluberlu?

As well as being fun to say, hurluberlu is a useful word that you can use to describe people.

What does it mean?

Although no one knows exactly where the noun hurluberlu comes from, it does appear in works by 16th century writer François Rabelais, who was known for his creative use of words and even sometimes for just making them up.

Some also think it might be related to the English ‘hurly-burly’ (defined as ‘busy’ or ‘boisterous’), although the two words have completely different meanings. 

Fittingly for a weird-sounding word, un hurluberlu is a way to describe a ‘weirdo’, an ‘eccentric’ or an ‘oddball’.

You might hear someone say Quel hurluberlu! (What a weirdo!) about someone they have seen or met.

Obviously, there’s no polite way to describe someone as an oddball, and calling someone un hurluberlu isn’t exactly a compliment, so it’s probably best to wait until the hurluberlu you want to describe is out of earshot.

Depending on the gender of the person you want to describe hurluberlu can be spelled without an 'e' for male eccentrics (un hurluberlu) or with an 'e' (une hurluberlue) for female oddballs.

A good alternative is un type bizarre or une excentriq

How do I use hurluberlu?

Colette est étourdie, un peu écervelée, une hurluberlue quoi.

Colette is absentminded, a scatterbrain, basically an oddball. 

Son copain est un peu hurluberlu : ses parents sont inquiets.

Her boyfriend is a bit of a weirdo; Her parents are worried.

(The above examples are from

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