French word of the Day: Mauviette

French word of the Day: Mauviette
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Are you being called this? It might be time to get a little more domineering.

Why do I need to know mauviette?

Well hopefully you won't, but if someone flings this at you then it's as well to know what they're talking about.

What does it mean?

It means wimp, sissy, weakling. As those translations suggest it's a bit of a playground insult, but it does have some other uses as well.

So if you're feeling a little childish you could say Quelle mauviette! Il a peur des serpents – What a wimp! He's afraid of snakes

Or more usefully you could ask your dentist Puis-je avoir un analgésique? Je suis une vraie mauviette en ce qui concerne la douleur – Can I have some painkiller? I'm a real wuss about pain.

If you're trying to goad a friend into joining you for that bungee jump you could say Si tu es une mauviette, dis-moi… Look, if you're too much of a sissy, just tell me.

Or you could tell someone – either in all seriousness or more playfully with a twinkle in your eye (and perhaps a whip in your hand) – Tu es une honte, une mauviette! – You're a disgrace, a weakling!

Any other options?

Yes, the chicken's international reputation for cowardice has also reached France so une poule mouillée (wet hen) is a common insult for the cowardly and un froussad is another common word for a wimp.

If you want to be a little more formal in your judgements un lâche is a coward and cowardly behaviour is comportement lâche.



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