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French expression of the day: Faire la moue

This expression is a great one to use on sulky children (and adults).

French expression of the day: Faire la moue
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know faire la moue?

Because knowing how to actually pull a face is key knowledge when learning how to fit into French culture, so you will want to know the linguistic way of doing it too.

What does it mean?

Moue is an ancient French word for 'grimace', and faire la moue literally translates to 'do the grimace'. 

More recently, after the French began using grimace to say 'grimace', moue became a reference to a special kind of grimace; un grimace de mépris, 'a grimace of contempt' (or 'sulky face' if you prefer).

So faire la moue is today French for 'sulk', 'pout' or 'pull a face'.

You know when you pucker your lips until they resemble a sort of hostile kiss? Like this:


Faire la moue can refer to the act of giving someone the silent treatment, or just very clearly showing someone (with your face) that you are in a bad mood – an art some would argue that the French (at least Parisians) have perfected.

READ ALSO: Grumpy Parisians, drunk northerners and other French regional stereotypes


It's a great expression to use on children, but it fitting for adults too.

Use it like this

J'ai oublié son anniversaire.. Elle fait la moue depuis une semaine.. – I forgot her birthday.. She's been giving me the silent treatment for a week..

Tu fais la moue ? – Are you sulking? 

Si tu continues de faire la moue, tu n'auras rien du tout. Pas de glace pour les enfants boudeurs ! – If you keep sulking, you won't get anything at all. No ice cream for kids who pout!

Je ne fais pas la moue, je te précise simplement que tu as tort. – I'm not sulking, I'm simply pointing out that you're wrong.


Bouder – sulk

Faire la tête – do the head (means to sulk)






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French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

You'll definitely need this phrase as the temperature rises.

French Expression of the Day: Faire trempette

Why do I need to know faire trempette?

Because you might need this phrase to describe that urge to jump in the water once the temperature hits a certain degree this summer.

What does it mean?

Faire trempette – usually pronounced fair trahm-pet – literally means ‘to make dipping sauce’ because the word ‘trempette’ is actually a condiment, or a dip, typically used for raw vegetables. In Canada, the dip is popular, and quite similar to Ranch dressing – a great addition to your crudités (vegetable snacks). 

But this phrase does not have anything to do with your healthy finger-food – in the colloquial sense, the phrase faire trempette actually means to take a dip – as in to go swimming.  

The way the expression came to become about swimming and not eating is pretty logical – in the 1600s a ‘trempette’ was a slice of bread dipped in liquid. As time went on people started to say ‘faire la trempette’ to describe the action of dipping food in liquid – like bread into wine – prior to taking a bite.

It became the metaphorical way of talking about taking a very short bath in the 19th century and now it’s the best way to reference the urge to  splash around for a second before heading back to the lounge chairs to tan. 

While you may  not have heard of this phrase before, you’ve definitely heard its synonym: the verb ‘se baigner’ (‘to bathe,’ but more so used as ‘to swim’). 

Use it like this

Comme la température augmente, je suis encore plus tentée d’aller faire trempette dans le canal. – As the temperature gets higher, I am even more tempted to go take a dip in the canal. 

Je pense que je vais faire trempette et ensuite m’allonger pour bronzer au soleil pendant un moment. – I think I will take a dip and then lay out to tan for a bit.