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French word of the day: Boulette

French word of the day: Boulette
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Whether you're a foodie or just learning French, you will likely make this at some point.

Why do I need to know boulette?

Not only is it a word you will hear in France, it's also the title of a very popular rap song that a lot of French people will make references too.

What does it mean?

Boulette means 'ball' in French.

The most common way of using boulette is boulettes de viande, which means meatballs.

But it does have a few other meanings in French, and when ordering spaghetti with meatballs, you will have to ask for des spaghettis aux boulettes de viande, so you actually need to specify that it's balls of meat you're looking for.

In primary school, it’s also common that pupils throw des boulettes de papier (crumpled paper balls) at each other during classes.

Though if you hear j’ai fait une boulette, it has nothing to do with meatballs or any other balls for that matter.

In this sense, une boulette means 'a blunder', 'a mistake' or 'a gaffe'.

If you are the one who’s made the mistake, someone might comment oh, la boulette !, meaning ‘what an idiot!'

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Boulette can also be a derogatory insult directed at someone's physical appearance.

Quelle boulette – What a fatty.

 

This is obviously an insult and we don't suggest you use the expression like this, but it's key to understand the French star rapper Diam’s hit song La Boulette, which according to the rapper herself, “the boulette, it’s me! Is there a problem with that? I love to eat, screw you,’ she said.

 

Use it like this

J’ai fait une grosse boulette, j’ai perdu mes clefs – I’ve screwed up, I lost my keys

Les boulettes de viande de viande de ma maman sont les meilleures – My mom’s meatballs are the best

On a fait une bataille de boulettes de papier à l’école – We had a paperball fight at school

Synonyms

Boule – Ball

Erreur – Mistake

Bêtise – Foolishness

By Gwendoline Gaudicheau


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