For members


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. 


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: À poil

Some people prefer to sleep like this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: À poil

Why do I need to know à poil ?

Because if someone invites you to come to a beach like this and you don’t know the meaning of this expression, then you might be in for a bit of a surprise.

What does it mean?

À poil – roughly pronounced ah pwahl – is an expression that makes use of the French word for an animal’s fur or its coat. A synonym might be fourrure. However, the expression as it has come to be used does not have to do with animals’ coats – it actually means to be naked. 

How a phrase referring to animal’s fur came to signify nakedness goes all the way back to the 17th century and the world of horseback-riding. At the time, one could either ride a horse with a saddle or cover (blanket), or you could ride bareback. The phrase for doing so was monter l’animal à cru (“à cru” meaning ‘bare’ or ‘raw’) which became monter un cheval à poil – to ride the horse with only its fur.

In this case, the horse was seen as naked (lacking its saddle or blanket), and over time the idea of the naked horse transferred over to naked people. 

The phrase is slightly crude – you wouldn’t use it to describe nude artworks – but not offensive, it’s roughly similar to describing someone as “butt naked” or “bollock naked” in English. The more polite way to say this might be “tout nu” (totally naked).

If you are looking for another way to say ‘birthday suit’ in French you could use “en costume d’Adam” (in Adam’s suit – a Biblical reference to the naked inhabitants of the Garden of Eden). 

Use it like this

Je me suis mise pas mal à poil dernièrement, mais ce n’est pas un délire exhibo et, dans la vie, c’est plus compliqué – I’ve been getting naked quite a bit lately, but it’s not an exhibitionist thing, life is more complicated than that. – From an interview about nude scenes with the French actress Virgine Efira.

Je préfère dormir à poil en été. Il fait vraiment trop chaud ! – I prefer sleeping totally naked in the summer. It is really too hot!