French Word of the Day: pfff

It's a word which is really more of a sound, but despite that it's a bit of a classic of French conversation. Here's a look at what 'Pfff' means (and which movement you need to coincide it with).

French Word of the Day: pfff
Photo: Depositphotos

Why do I need to know pfff?

It might sound (and look) a bit silly but this word is a staple of French conversation. 

Used in the right way, it will give your spoken French a bit of native attitude. 

So, what does it mean?

Pfff often goes hand in hand with a facial expression that exudes boredom or dislike because it is used to convey contempt, disdain and scorn. 

The French use it when somebody is saying something they consider to be stupid, ridiculous, pathetic so much so that they are at a loss for a real answer and are reduced to saying pfff

There isn't an exact translation in English, but it could be compared to sighing loudly when someone is speaking and some might even make a similar noise to the French pfff to go with it. 

Here's an example of this noise in use: Pfff, elle n'avait rien d'exceptionnel cette femme. – Pfff, there was nothing exceptional about that woman. 

Or, Pfff, c'est n'importe quoi – 'Pfff, whatever'. 

Remember that while it is very common, it is still colloquial and is certainly one to avoid using in front of your boss. 

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




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French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

A daube is a delicious and hearty French stew - but this expression is not something that you would aspire to.

French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

Why do I need to know c’est de la daube?

Because you might want to express your strong opinion on a movie/book/TV show you’ve just watched in informal but relatively polite society.

What does it mean?

C’est de la daube  – pronounced say de la dorb – translates as ‘it’s a piece of crap’ (rubbish, while a perfectly reasonable alternative, just doesn’t quite cut it) and is perfect for use in discussions about books, films and TV shows … there’s even a book about cinema called C’est de la daube (Chroniques de cinéma)

The phrase can also be used to describe things that have little value and can be discarded after use – or, basically, anything you want to describe as ‘crap’.

Famously, daube is a classic Provençal stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence, and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan. The question, then, is how a delicious and hearty stew came to be used to describe something cheap and nasty and best avoided.

It’s thought that this phrase has its origins in the kitchen. According to Gaston Esnault in his “dictionnaire des argots”, ‘daube’ in this less-savoury context is a 19th-century word of Lyon origin to describe fruits and meat as being ‘spoiled’, applied to fruits and meats.

Notoriously, French programmers who like the Linux system often refer to Windows as Windaube…

Use it like this

C’est de la daube cette film – it’s crap, this film

Ton opinion, c’est de la daube – your opinion is rubbish