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French word of the day: Fainéant

French word of the day: Fainéant
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
January is typically a month for feeling a bit like this French expression.

Why do I need to know fainéant?

Because it's a great way to say you'd rather just spend the day in bed.

What does it mean?

Fainéant, pronounced 'fénya', is French for 'lazy'.

French online dictionary l'Internaute defines fainéant as a “person who does nothing or wants to do nothing” – kind of like this dog:

 

It can also be spelled feignant, and both versions are correct.

Fainéant can be both a noun and an adjective, so une fainéante is 'a lazy (female) person', and so is une personne fainéante.

It comes from the verb faire (to do) and néant (not doing anything). Historically, the term was used about Merovingian kings – des rois fainéants – who rules France until 751, when they, under pressure, handed over the power to subordinates.

It can be interchangeably used with paresseux, which means the same.

Use it like this

J'ai un peu honte, ça fait trois mois que j'ai un abonnement à la salle de sport, mais je suis trop fainéant pour y aller. – I'm a bit ashamed, for three months I've had a gym subscription, but I'm too lazy to go.

C'est un gros fainéant. Il ne le fera pas sauf si tu lui mets beaucoup de pression. – He's a huge sloth. He wont do it unless you put a lot of pressure on him.

Il est gentil, mais je ne vois pas mon futur avec lui. Il est trop fainéant, j'ai besoin de quelqu'un qui bouge. – He's nice, but I don't see a future with him. He's too lazy, I need someone who acts.

Synonyms

Flemmard – a lazy person (who has la flemme)

Paresseux – sloth/lazy


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