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French word of the day – Tocard

Encountered someone that you consider to be a fool, an idiot, a waste of space or a general dumbass? Well you obviously need a word to mutter about them.

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

Why do I need to know tocard?

So that you can mutter it under your breath the next time you see someone wearing a plastic bag over their head on public transport to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

What does it mean?

Tocard (alternatively spelled toquard) is an insult to say that someone is an 'idiot', 'useless' or 'incapable of anything'.

If you call someone un tocard, you’re saying that they are un nul, un zero.

Why now?

Well, since the spread of the coronavirus started to get some people in some parts of the world slightly over-pannicky, we thought it would be a nice occasion to learn another French insult (faithful readers will know we take this very seriously).

READ ALSO The nine very best French insults (for use when you're very, very cross)


How do I use it?

It's quite condescending, so don't say it too loud if you use it about someone you don't know.

But if you decide someone is being a fool, you could mutter Mais quel tocard, celle-là – But what an idiot, that one.

It's not just for virus-hit times of course, you can use it for any kind of common-or-garden foolishness that you encounter in daily life.

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French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

A daube is a delicious and hearty French stew - but this expression is not something that you would aspire to.

French Expression of the Day: C’est de la daube

Why do I need to know c’est de la daube?

Because you might want to express your strong opinion on a movie/book/TV show you’ve just watched in informal but relatively polite society.

What does it mean?

C’est de la daube  – pronounced say de la dorb – translates as ‘it’s a piece of crap’ (rubbish, while a perfectly reasonable alternative, just doesn’t quite cut it) and is perfect for use in discussions about books, films and TV shows … there’s even a book about cinema called C’est de la daube (Chroniques de cinéma)

The phrase can also be used to describe things that have little value and can be discarded after use – or, basically, anything you want to describe as ‘crap’.

Famously, daube is a classic Provençal stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence, and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan. The question, then, is how a delicious and hearty stew came to be used to describe something cheap and nasty and best avoided.

It’s thought that this phrase has its origins in the kitchen. According to Gaston Esnault in his “dictionnaire des argots”, ‘daube’ in this less-savoury context is a 19th-century word of Lyon origin to describe fruits and meat as being ‘spoiled’, applied to fruits and meats.

Notoriously, French programmers who like the Linux system often refer to Windows as Windaube…

Use it like this

C’est de la daube cette film – it’s crap, this film

Ton opinion, c’est de la daube – your opinion is rubbish