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French word of the day: Rouspéter

How foul moods and farts fused into a French everyday expression.

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

Why do I need to know rouspéter?

Because you can use it either to argue against something, or if you just want to complain.

What does it mean?

The verb rouspéter means to disagree or to whine.

Rouspéter is an old expression that first appeared in 1877. It comes from the ancient verbs rousser or rouscailler which mean to 'express your bad mood'.

It was fused with the verb péter which means to 'fart', but also to 'break'.

When your views differ from what is being said or done and you want to let everyone know, you rouspète – you whine.


Rouspéter also means to 'moan', and to 'say it out loud'.

Use it like this

A chaque fois que je vais à la piscine, il rouspète – Every time I go to the pool, he kicks up a stink.

Il a rouspété quand son patron a refusé d’augmenter son salaire – He complained when his boss refused to raise his salary.

Elle n’arrête pas de rouspéter ! – She keeps moaning! 


Fulminer – speaking vehemently about someone or something.

Maugréer / ronchonner – complaining, showing you're in a foul mood

Protester – violently expressing your disagreement. 


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For members


French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.