For members


French word of the day: Richard

With apologies to any readers named Richard - but this is a name you do not want to be called in France.

French word of the day: Richard
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know richard?

Because if someone calls you a gros richard, it's nice to know that they're neither calling your fat, nor did they forget your first name.

They are, however, not complementing you either.

What does it mean?

Un gros richard actually is an insult about people who are very rich.

Un richard is what you in English would call a ‘nob', ‘toff’ or (very) 'posh'.

Moreover, the term richard implies that the person in question doesn’t try and hide their wealth. 

It's an harsher insult than bourge (short for bourgeois). The French bourges can get away with being rich. They're the kind of rich that's (sort of) accepted as part of society. 

The gros richards, on the other hand, are the filthy rich who don't hide it. Think Bill Gates, but behaving like 50 cent. 

Just kidding, but there is a real – although subtle – difference there. A bourge is someone who can frame themselves as a leftie with socialist values (popularly called gauche caviar). A richard flaunts his money, bluntly and unapologetically – someone a bit bling.

Jouer le richard – playing Mr Fat Cat [not recommended in France].

Les cruises! C’est vraiment un truc pour les gros richards ça. – Cruises! That’s such a posh-people-thing.

Crache le morceau, gros richard. – Spill it, moneybags.

C’est qui ce gros richard dans le parking? – Who’s that fat cat in the parking lot?

Other ways of calling someone 'posh' in France is huppé ('crested'), aisé ('well-offs') and nantis ('haves'). You can also use the expression être pété de thunes, although that is much more colloquial. Blindé is also an option.
(And to any Richards out there, it's also tough being named Ben in France).

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For members


French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

This French expression is not the kindest, but it will certainly get your point across.

French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

Why do I need to know bordéliser?

Because when things feel chaotic, you might want to use this word.

What does it mean?

Bordéliser roughly pronounced bore-del-ee-zay – comes from the swear word “bordel” which means brothel.

In popular usage, bordel is used to describe a mess or a chaotic environment, and bordéliser turns the bordel into a verb – meaning to make or create disorder, disaster or chaos. 

During periods of unrest in France, you may hear people blame one group for causing the problem by using this expression. Keep in mind that bordéliser is not polite language – the English equivalent might be to “fuck (or screw) something up”.

One popular theory says that the root word bordel comes from medieval French – at the time, sex workers were explicitly not allowed to work near the ports, so they were relegated to wooden huts or small houses – or bordes, in French –  away from the city.

You may also hear another French expression that uses the same root word: “c’est le bordel”. 

This literally translates to “it’s a brothel” but it is used to describe a situation that’s untidy, messy or chaotic, both literally and figuratively as in  ‘what a bloody mess!’ or ‘it’s mayhem!’ or ‘what a disaster!’

Use it like this

Le militant accuse le gouvernement de bordéliser le pays avec sa réforme impopulaire. – The activist accuses the government of “fucking up” the country with its unpopular reform.

Tu as bordélisé l’appartement et notre dynamique de colocation en achetant le singe comme animal de compagnie. Qu’est-ce qui t’a pris ? – You have screwed up the apartment and our roommate dynamic by buying the monkey as a pet. What were you thinking?