French word of the day: Pacotille

French word of the day: Pacotille
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This could mean that you got a great bargain or that someone ripped you off.

Why do I need to know pacotille?

Because it can mean two things that are contradictory and you'll want to know what's what.

What does it mean?

The French online dictionary l'Internaute defines the pacotille as “goods with no value”, and this the most common way to use the term.

Describing jewelry, a leather purse or a dress as pacotille means they're of 'poor quality', 'worthless' or just 'junk'. The term here has to be accompanied with the article de;

Un sac à main de pacotille means 'a cheap purse', 

The de is crucial, because when you remove it, pacotille means something quite different.

Une pacotille means 'very little', and is usually used to say that you got a 'bargain'. 

J'ai payé une pacotille pour ce sandwich – I paid next to nothing for this sandwich.

Use it like this

Ce sont des bijoux de pacotille – These necklaces are complete ripoffs.

Cet ordinateur m'a couté une pacotille – This computer cost me next to nothing.

Quel chanteur de pacotille ! – What a bad singer he is!


Camelote – junk

Cochonnerie – rubbish

Pour une bouchée de pain – for next to nothing

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