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French word of the day: Mimi

Is something so cute that regular words just don't express it? The French might have the answer.

French word of the day: Mimi

Why do I need to know mimi?

It's one of the many French words to describe affection between lovers or friends.

What does it mean?

Mimi is a word French people use to say that something is (really) adorable.

To be mimi is to be more than cute, it's small-fluffy-kitten cute.

You could say:

Comme il est mimi ce petit chat! – ‘How sweet is this little cat!’

It goes the same for describing a person. A teenage girl calling another teenage girl mimi, means that she is adorable, gentille or mignonne – adorable, kind or sweet.

Tu es trop mimi! – You're so (freakin') cute!

READ ALSO: Terms of endearment: 15 of the best French phrases for lovers and friends

However mimi is one of those French expressions that you need to be slightly careful with when choosing your audience. If it’s between humans, keep it equal.

For example, it would be slightly patronising for an adult man to call a female coworker mimi – unless they are best office buddies of course.

You can also use mimi about an object (c'est trop mimi – it's so cute), like a pair of fluffy, pink shoes (see tweet below).



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For members


French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.