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French word of the Day: Ringard

Unlikely to ever be used for readers of The Local, but you might want to know what it means anyway.

French word of the Day: Ringard
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know ringard?

It's a fairly damming criticism, but one that we reckon is unlikely to be used on any readers of The Local, who are in general a pretty cool bunch.

What does it mean?

It means uncool, lame, out-of-date, cheesy, corny or naff, basically anything that is deemed not up-to-the-minute enough by the speaker (which is of course a very subjective judgement.

So someone – who is clearly wrong – might say Ben, l'eurovision est trop ringard – Oh, Eurovision is so corny

On nous dit qu'être féministe c'est ringard, passé de mode, mais il n'a jamais été aussi important – Some people say that being a feminist is lame and old-fashioned, but it has never been more important

You can use it for an uncool person as well as a thing.

J'étais un ringard à lunettes quand j'étais à l'école – I was a bespectacled nerd when I was in school

You can also use the word ringardisé to describe something uncool or old-fashioned, and the word is sometimes also used to imply that something is obsolete.

Loin d'être ringardisé par le AI, la direction informatique a la possibilité de contribuer de manière encore plus directe qu'auparavant à la réussite de l'entrepri – Far from being rendered obsolete by AI, the IT department has more opportunities than ever to contribute to the success of the business.

If you want an easier option for calling someone or something uncool you can just use pas cool  – the English word 'cool' is widely used in France and in fact throwing this and a few other random English words into everyday conversation is often considered pretty, well, cool.

READ ALSO The 10 English words that will make you soon cool in France




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For members


French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

He's the legendary Englishman who is surprisingly relevant to French political discourse.

French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

Why do I need to know Robin des bois?

Because you might be wondering why the French reference this English outlaw during protest movements 

What does it mean?

Robin des bois roughly pronounced roe-bahn day bwah – is the French version of “Robin Hood” – the legendary outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. 

Robin Hood is part of English folklore, with the first references to him occurring sometime during the 13th or 14th century. He did not become Robin des bois for some time – as the legend did not spread to the majority of French people until at least the 18th or 19th century. 

Robin des bois most likely made his big entrance on the French stage in the 19th century when the novel Ivanhoe (1819), which tells tales of medieval England, was translated into French. 

The fabled outlaw was welcomed by the French, particularly romantic writers and thinkers of the time who saw him as a symbol of the fight against the aristocracy. 

But the French had their own versions of Robin Hood before the English legend made its way to l’Hexagone – like the “Louis Mandrin” who supposedly rebelled against corrupt tax collectors during the Ancien Regime. 

Over the years, the French – particularly those on the political left – have evoked “Robin des bois” during strikes and protests, and it’s relatively common to see protest movements or direct action groups name themselves after Robin Hood.

The English outlaw also had his own French television series between 1963 and 1966 – though this time he was called “Thierry La Fronde” and he lived in France during the Hundred Years’ War.

Use it like this

Nous devons nous attaquer aux actions de Robin des Bois afin d’aider la classe ouvrière à payer leurs factures d’énergie, a déclaré le syndicat dans un communiqué de presse. – We must take action like Robin Hood to help the working class pay for their energy bills, the union said in a flyer. 

Le restaurateur était un véritable Robin des Bois – il avait tendance à surfacturer les tables des riches et à sous-facturer celles de la classe populaire. – The restaurant owner was a real Robin Hood – he had a tendency of overcharging tables of rich people and under-charging those of poor folks.