French Word of the Day: bon gré, mal gré

Convey a sense of inevitability with flair thanks to today's expression of the day.

French Word of the Day: bon gré, mal gré

Do you need someone to just get on with something already? Read on for the perfect phrase to give them a kick up the butt.

Why do I need to know bon gré, mal gré?

Sometimes in life, some things just need to be done. Bon gré, mal gré is a great way of conveying inevitability. 

So, what does it mean?

The expression bon gré, mal gré means “like it or not”, “willingly or not” or “willy-nilly”. 

For example, if you've got a misbehaving child, you might say: Tu dois ranger ta chambre, bon gré mal gré ! – “You have to clean your room, whether you like it or not!”

And if they aren't eating their greens, you could quip: Tu vas manger tes légumes, bon gré mal gré! – “You'll eat your vegetables, whether you like it or not!”

Or, with the meaning “willy-nilly”: Je me suis mariée bon gré mal gré et j'ai eu des enfants. – “I willy-nilly got married and had children.”

The phrase can either be used when giving orders or simply describing something that's already happened. 

Did you know?

There's a whole bunch of French phrases that use the “gré” part of bon gré, mal gré

A son gré means “to one's liking”, de bon gré or de plein gré is “willingly” and de gré à gré is “by mutual agreement”. 

For more French phrases, check out our word of the day section.

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French Expression of the Day: S’autokiffer

Here's a newish addition to French - aka the language of love.

French Expression of the Day: S’autokiffer

Why do I need to know s’autokiffer?

Because French is the language of love, so you should know how to extend that to yourself too.

What does it mean?

S’autokiffer – usually pronounced sought-oh-keef-ay – means to love yourself.

The phrase, a colloquial way to reference self-love, combines the prefix auto (self) with the verb Kiffer, which originally comes from Arabic and is used in French slang to mean “like,” “love” or “very into.” When put together, it becomes the perfect way to say “self-love” in French, but sometimes it can be a bit derogatory if you are referring to someone else in this way.

The French like to put auto in front of words. Some others you might hear are autodérision (to make fun of yourself) and autocongratuler (to congratulate yourself/ pat yourself on the back) or, during the pandemic, autotest for a home test kit for Covid.

The phrase can be used as a verb (ex. je m’autokiffe), or as an adjective (ex. Il est autokiffe) to describe someone who really loves themself – maybe a bit too much.

It can be either positive to talk about someone who is comfortable with themselves or negative when talking about someone who loves themselves more than is reasonable ie they’re arrogant and full of themselves.

This is not something you’ll hear in a formal setting, and you might see some creative ways of conjugating it, as it is primarily a slang phrase. But, if the self-love trend has made its way to France, it is safe to say this word might be around for a while. 

Use it like this

Toutes les photos sur son portable sont de lui-même, il est un peu un autokiffe. – All of his pictures on his phone are of himself, he’s a bit full of himself.

Il est hyper important de s’autokiffer. Les gens disent que si tu ne peux pas s’autokiffer, comment tu peux kiffer quelqu’un d’autre ? – It is super important to love yourself. People say if you cannot love yourself, how can you love another person?


Bien dans sa peau – literally translating as ‘good in one’s skin’ this means a person who is comfortable with themselves and accepts themselves as they are.

Avoir le melon – meaning ‘to have the melon’ this means someone who is big-headed, full of themselves or arrogant

READ ALSO 21 essential fruit and vegeatble expressions