French word of the day: Pleurnicher

French word of the day: Pleurnicher
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
The French are internationally known as being good at complaining. Here's an expression if ever someone goes a bit overboard.

Why do I need to know pleurnicher?

Because you'll want to know if someone accuses you of doing it.

What does it mean?

Pleurnicher is a variant of pleurer, which means ‘crying’, but while the latter implies real sadness, pleurnicher usually means that someone is acting like a big baby.

Defined as ‘crying for no or little reason’ or ‘pretending to cry’, pleurnicher is what Anglophones would call ‘whining’ or ‘whingeing’. 

It's not a particularly nice thing to accuse someone of, and it's often used as way of discredit someone's chagrin as unwarranted (sometimes accurately so).

Politicians often use pleurnicher to reject opponents’ complaints. A boyfriend could say it to scoff at his girlfriend's crocodile tears (or vice-versa). Adults could say it if kids are being whiny. 

Je n'aime pas les enfants qui pleurnichent tout le temps – I don’t like kids who whine all the time.

Ca fait quatre heures qu’il pleurniche pour avoir une glace – He’s been whining for an ice cream for four hours

You can also change the verb pleurnicher into pleurnicheries, which translates to ‘whinings’ – which doesn’t really make sense in English, but it does in French:

Arrête tes pleurnicheries, je ne supporte pas ça – Stop your whinings, I can’t stand it.


Chialer is another way of saying pleurnicher.

READ ALSO: Eleven phrases that will let you complain like the French

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