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French word of the day: Bisounours

In France, a kiss and a teddy bear combined become be somewhat of an insult.

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

Why do I need to know bisounours?

Because it can be a clever retort when you're participating in fiery political discussions.

What does it mean?

Bisounours is a combination of two French words, bisou (kiss) and nounours (teddy bear)

Originally, Bisounours referred to the French version of Care Bears, you know those multi-coloured bears who had their own show back in the 1980’s.

The American Care Bears became so popular in France that they left a mark that lives on in the French language still today, long after the show stopped airing on French television.


Even those too young to have seen the original Bisounours dance around on their TV screen use the term today.

The TV show origins explain why you generally see Bisounours written with a capital B, even when used as an adjective, although some people will spell it differently.

Even though the original Bisounours were fluffy and cute, the term itself is pretty pejorative, and mostly used as an insult.

A Bisounours “person who is too nice, naive, who lives in a perfect, utopic world”, according to the French online dictionary l’Internaute.

You will often hear it used about politicians or political measures (it's a right-wing favourite to criticise left-wing politics for being too soft). 

If you say C'est un gouvernement de Bisounours, it means that the government is made up of snowflakes.

Use it like this

Je regardais les Bisounours quand j’étais enfant – I used to watch the Care Bears when I was a child.

Il vit dans le monde des Bisounours – He lives in a world of teddy bears (he's too naive).

C’est un vrai Bisounours – He is too soft.

J'en ai marre de ces mesures bisounours – I'm sick of all these snowflake measures.


Enfantin – Childish  

Naïf – Naive

Irréaliste – Unrealistic


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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