Why do I need to know croûton?
Croûton has three meanings in the French language, and one of them is not related to bread at all.
So, what does it mean?
As in English, a croûton is a small piece of rebaked bread that you can add to a salad or a soup.
Peux-tu préparer les croûtons pour le dîner, s'il te plaît? – Can you prepare some croutons for dinner, please?
But croûton is also used to talk about both ends of a baguette. In the two cases, the word derives from the word croûte – crust – and describes hard pieces of bread. The word quignon is also quite widespread in the South of France, but people will understand you no matter which word you choose.
Il mange toujours le croûton sur le chemin du retour de la boulangerie. – He always eats the crouton on his way back from the bakery.
Unsplash/ Jonathan Farber
Why should I be careful?
When associated to the adjective vieux however, the word becomes quite pejorative. Vieux croûton does not only mean that the croutons you baked have been lying around for too long.
This expression is mainly used to describe old men who have an outdated vision of life and society, dinosaurs basically.
Elle est amie avec ce vieux croûton? – She is friend with this old codger?
There are absolutely no version of this expression applying to women – as much as you would love to, you cannot call an old lady vieille croûton.
While this is 99 percent of the time aimed at old people, the expression also applies to anyone a bit too conservative for your taste.