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French word of the day: Grincheux

Here's an expression for people who take lemonade and turn it into lemons.

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

Why do I need to know grincheux?

Because, if you live in Paris or are planning to visit the city, you might need it.

What does it mean?

Grincheux is French for ‘grumpy’. It’s what you would say about someone who is in a particularly ratty mood.

In French, Grumpy – one of Snow White's seven dwarfs – is actually called Grincheux, and when you think about him that pretty much sums up the meaning of the expression.

Quel grincheux ! – What a grump!

If you’re talking about a woman, use grincheuse.

Quelle grincheuse ! – What a grump!
If you live in Paris or have been to visit, you will know that the mood is more grincheux than elsewhere in France – perhaps more so than in other capitals too. 
Sometimes, just thinking quel grincheux ! can alleviate a little everyday frustration.

Use it like this

C'est dur d'être serveur, il y a tant de clients grincheux.. – It's difficult to be a waiter, there are so many grumpy customers.

Je ne supporte pas ma voisine. À chaque fois que qu’on met de la musique, elle tape ses talons au sol pour signaler qu’on fait trop de bruit. Quelle grincheuse ! – I can't stand my neighbour. Every time we put on music she stomps her heels into the floor to signal that we're being too loud. What a grouch!

Mon grand père est un vrai grincheux, il grogne tout le temps dans son fauteuil. – My grandfather is a real grouch, he grumbles constantly in his chair. 

De grincher, which is the verb for grincheux and can be translated to ‘to grinch’, is rarely used.


Grognon – grumpy

Ronchon – grumpy 
Bougon – grumpy

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Faire son cinéma

We're probably all tempted to do this after an unexpected, last-minute train or flight cancellation

French Expression of the Day: Faire son cinéma

Why do I need to know faire son cinéma?

Because you might be running out of words to describe your child’s latest meltdown.

What does it mean?

Faire son cinéma – usually pronounced something like fair sohn sin-ay-mah – translates literally to ‘to make one’s theatre,’ but in practice the expression is not about opening your own movie theatre. It is actually used to describe overly dramatic or excessive behaviour, and the best colloquial translation in English would be ‘to make a scene.’

You will likely hear this phrase in French in a particular context – when a parent is chastising their misbehaving child who is likely throwing a temper tantrum. But the expression is not limited to overly tired three year olds – it can also be used to describe melodramatic adults, or people simply hamming it up, as we might say in English. 

The origins of the expression are what you might expect – as actors are known for their exaggerated gestures and simulations, around the mid-20th century, this idea of exaggerated performance became an expression used for anyone (not just those paid for it). There is another similar French expression: Faire tout un cinéma, which translates to ‘making a big deal of something,’ and though similar, it is more so focused on the idea of exaggerating to amuse an audience.

Use it like this

Tu dois arrêter de faire ton cinéma, on était d’accord pour quitter le parc il y a cinq minutes. – You need to stop making a scene, we agreed we would be leaving the park five minutes ago.

La femme à côté de moi a vraiment fait son cinéma. Elle était tellement énervée que son hamburger était froid qu’elle a crié sur le serveur. – The woman next to me really made a scene. She was so upset her burger was cold that she screamed at the server.