French Expression of the Day: faire la tête

French Expression of the Day: faire la tête
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If someone tells you not to ‘faire la tête,’ they’re not prohibiting some sort of strange dance move, but a different behavior all together.

Why do I need to know faire la tête?

Knowing this phrase will ensure that you know when you’re being chided, as well as allowing you to reprimand others, or better yet, to encourage friends when they’re feeling down.

What does it mean?

Faire la tête literally means ‘to do/make the head’, which sounds pretty bizarre if you’re not familiar with the phrase’s more common idiomatic use.

In everyday language, faire la tête means ‘to sulk’, ‘to pout’, 'to be glum' or to visibly show one’s displeasure, often in response to an adverse situation or decision.

Obviously, to faire la tête is not a socially desirable behavior, so it is often used with a critical or prohibitive tone – think of an authoritative parent or teacher reproaching a child or student.

A colleague complaining about a coworker who sulks whenever he hasn’t gotten his way might say, Il fait toujours la tête quand il n’a pas eu ce qu’il voulait.

Or, a friend encouraging you not to get down after a piece of bad news might say, Ne fais pas la tête, ça va aller (Don’t sulk, it will be OK).

Faire la tête is informal but commonplace, and can be used without apprehension in most contexts – just know that it carries a negative connotation.

There's even a pop song from the 60s called Ne fais pas la tete by French singer Kathy Line (see video below). 

How do I use faire la tête?

Ne fais pas la tête! – Quit sulking!

Arrête de faire la tête et réagis! – Stop being moody and do something!

Il faisait la tête parce qu’elle n’a pas choisi son projet. – He was being grumpy because she didn’t choose his project.


Bouder is the formal French verb you can use to say ‘to sulk’ or ‘to pout’.

Faire du boudin (‘make blood sausage’) and tirer la gueule (‘pull a mug’ – gueule is pejorative slang for ‘face’) are less common and more colorful ways to communicate the same idea.

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