For members


French word of the day: Plouc

Most foreigners will likely feel a little bit like this when arriving in Paris for the first time.

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

Why do I need to know plouc?

Whether your goal is to master the top level of Parisian arrogance, or just to unmask those who do, this is a good expression to know.

What does it mean?

Plouc is a pejorative French expression used about someone who is a little bit country, in the most literal sense.

It originated in Brittany in the late 19th century and means paysan (peasant) in the regional accent there.

At its origins it was used to poke fun at the stereotypical countryside French person as being somewhat simple and rustic.

So if you hear someone say plouc today, it means that they are a 'country bumpkin', 'yokel', 'hick', or 'hillbilly'.

It's definitely not a compliment and it implies that the person is lacking of what the French call savoir-vivre, which is an elegant yet snobbish way of saying that someone is uncouth, lacking of social-cultural capital.

Quel plouc – What a hick

Similarly, plouqistan or ploukistan is a pejorative way of talking about the 'place where the ploucs live'. 

Use it like this

Il n'est jamais allé à Paris, c'est un vrai plouc – He's never been to Paris, he's a real hick.

J'en peux plus de tous ces ploucs. Je te dis, c'est la dernière fois qu'on passe nos vacances dans un camping – I can't take these hillbillies anymore. I'm telling you, this is the last time we're spending our holidays in a camping.

C'était un vrai dîner des bobos, des vrais bourgeois quoi. Je ne me suis rarement senti aussi plouc. – It was a real city-snob dinner, a truly bourgeois crowd, you know. I've rarely felt like so much like a country bumpkin. 


Cul-terreux – arse-earthy (very colloquial way of saying that someone is from the countryside).

Péquenot – yokel

Personne rustre – loutish

Campagnard – person from the countryside 

Paysan – peasant 

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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