For members


French word of the day: Beauf

The original Beauf was a mustachioed bistro owner. Today the term has a more complex meaning.

French word of the day: Beauf

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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Word of the Day: Beigne

This word is not actually just a shortened version of the pastry.

French Word of the Day: Beigne

Why do I need to know Beigne ?

Because if someone says they want to give you this word, you might either be very happy or in a lot of pain.

What does it mean?

Beigne – pronounced ben-yuh – is the literal translation for a “European doughnut” in French, even though the word looks similar to the other pastry, a beignet

However, the slang version of this term refers to a ‘blow that causes swelling’ – ie a hit or a punch. If you are looking for a synonym, you could also use the French word ‘coup.’

You can decipher between the pastry and the punch by checking whether the word is in masculine or feminine.

The masculine version (un beigne) is the word for a doughnut with a hole in the middle (un beignet is the round doughnut with no hole, and often a filling) whereas the feminine version (une beigne) means a hit or blow. Though, context clues ought to help you figure it out.

The words are interconnected. ‘Beigne‘ dates all the way back to the 13th century in France, and it referred to a ball of dough fried in butter. The slang term supposedly arose from the practice of punching a hole in the dough so that it would cook more evenly.

These days, une beigne can be both a physical and metaphorical ‘hit.’

An example of the latter would be when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost a vote of no-confidence from his party – some French newspapers responded by running headlines of the Big Beigne (a play on words with Big Ben) to joke about the blow the former PM received.

Be careful using this word outside of France though, as in French Canada the term has a bit of a different meaning. En Québécois, it can be taken as an insult, similar to calling someone an idiot. Additionally, the phrase in Quebec “se pogner le beigne” means ‘to do nothing’ or to ‘twiddle your thumbs.’

Use it like this

Il a reçu une beigne au visage après avoir insulté la mère de l’autre homme. – He took a punch to the face after insulting the other man’s mother.

Tu sais comment faire des beignes ? On pourrait essayer d’en faire ensemble le week-end prochain. – Do you know how to make doughnuts? Would you like to make some together next weekend?

Pour échapper à un requin, il faut lui donner une beigne dans le nez. – To escape a shark, you have to give him a blow to the nose.