French word of the day: Beauf

French word of the day: Beauf
The original Beauf was a mustachioed bistro owner. Today the term has a more complex meaning.

Why do I need to know beauf?

It's a common expression, filled with French stereotypes.

What does it mean?

Beauf, not to be confused with boeuf (beef) or bof, has two meanings.

The simplest one is when used as a diminutive of beau-frère, brother in law. The other, more complex one, is the French colloquial term used to describe an unsophisticated or vulgar person.

Born at the hands of the famous French cartoonist Jean Cabut (known as “Cabu”) in the magazine Charlie Hebdo in the 1970s,  the original Beauf was a typical francais moyen, “narrow-minded, conservative, rude and chauvinist.” 

Cabu's original drawing was the mustachioed owner of a bistro, who Cabu described as someone who “doesn’t think,” yet is “convinced of his own truths.” 

The archetype of today’s beauf, le nouveau beauf, is male, provincial, slightly racist and sexist, with poor taste. The English version could be “redneck” or “chav”.

It is, of course, a stereotype, sometimes used to make sweeping generalisations that aren’t necessarily true. A Parisian might say that:

Les gens du nord, ce sont tous des gros beaufs. – People from the north are all chavs.

READ ALSO: French regional stereotypes: Is half the country really always drunk?

Any other options?

Beauf can also describe someone's behaviour. For example, if you are a bit of a snobbish bourgouise lady, you might say:

Manger avec les mains, mais c'est un comportement de beaufs, ca – Eating with your hands, that's just chavvy behaviour.

Or if you're sick of your uncle's sexist jokes, you might say:

Mon oncle a sorti une blague des beaufs ce week-end encore, trop sexiste!  – My uncle told yet another really redneck joke this weekend, really sexist!

Although calling someone a beauf is not a compliment, there is also a form a pride tied to the label. Linguist Alain Rey told the Express that the langage beauf (provincial language) as “a reaction to political correctness.”

Speaking beauf could be a way of countering the “increasing policing of political speech and use of euphemisms,” according to Rey.

For more French words and expressions, head to our French word of the Day section.

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