For members


French word of the day: Chouchou

Chouchou is a versatile French expression that changes depending on the context - and how many chous you use.

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

Why do I need to know chouchou?

Because you want to understand the (very) different meanings of the word as to avoid (big) misunderstandings.

What does it mean?

Chouchou (pronounced as if you were saying 'shoe' twice) has three meanings.

The French online dictionary l'Internaute defines chouchou as “a person who is preferred over others and towards whom all attention is targeted.”

In other words, chouchou refers to a 'teacher’s pet'. This is the most common way of using the expression in French.

But if you've been to the beach in France, you have probably heard salespeople yelling Glaces, beignets, chouchous !

That does not mean that they are selling 'ice cream', 'doughnuts' and 'teacher's pets', however. Here, chouchou refers to (very sticky) caramelised peanuts that French people like to eat as a treat.

Beware however that just chou means cabbage. So while it's unlikely that any beach vendor would have cabbage on their platter it's good to know that if you ask for chou, you're not asking for a salty treat.

Chouchou also means 'bobble' or 'hair tie', so if someone asks you tu n'as pas un chouchou par hasard ? (you don't have a chouchou by any chance?), chances are they're looking for something to put their hair up with, not a teacher's pet or a salty snack. If in doubt, check the length of their hair.

Use it like this

J’aime bien ton chouchou – I like your hair tie

Paul est le chouchou de sa maîtresse – Paul is his teacher’s pet


Préféré – Favourite

Elastique – Hair tie


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For members


French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why being a good pupil can sometimes be … bad.

French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

Why do I need to know Syndrome de la bonne élève?

Feeling under-valued at work despite doing everything – and more – asked of you? You may have ‘good student syndrome’.

What does it mean?

Syndrome de la bonne élève – pronounced sin-dromm de la bon ell-evv – translates, as we’ve already hinted, as good student syndrome. 

You may well also see it written as syndrome du bon élève (pronounced sin-dromm doo bon ell-evv) – but this is predominantly a female issue.

It refers to someone in the workplace who tries their hardest to work to the rules, do all the jobs asked of them – and more – and yet is overlooked in favour of co-workers who don’t necessarily put in the same hard graft.

It’s not an official ‘syndrome’, but mental health experts do recognise it in many people – particularly women.

It is a hangover, according to features in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, from school days when girls are considered to be harder workers and less trouble than their boy counterparts.

Marie Claire labelled it a “destructive perfectionism … which affects the mental health of the women they become, while preventing them from embracing positions of responsibility’.’

Use it like this

Le syndrome de la bonne élève touche essentiellement les femmes dans le monde occidental. – Good student syndrome mainly affects women in the Western world.

Cette question d’éducation est d’autant plus marquante que le syndrome du « bon élève » affecte généralement les femmes – This question of education is all the more striking because “good student” syndrome generally affects women