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Word of the day: Douillet

Since we've all been spending much more time indoors, here is an essential word you should know when talking about a house or an apartment.

Word of the day: Douillet
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know ‘douillet’?

Sometimes you can get away with using the English translation of this word and people will understand what you are trying to say, but knowing the right French word is always better.

What does it mean?

Douillet has two meanings. When describing a place, the closest translation of douillet is ‘cosy’, used to talk about places or things that are snug or comfortable, like a tiny apartment or a living room with a fireplace.

While you may hear people importing the word ‘cosy’ directly from English, particularly younger people, not everyone does, so this is the word you should use instead.

This word can also be used about people, and here it’s a bit less positive. Someone is douillet when they are oversensitive to pain or wimpish.

Use it like this

Il est trop douillet ton appartement – Your apartment is so cosy

Il faisait un temps horrible dehors mais on avions un coin douillet près du feu – The weather outside was awful but we were nice and snug by the fire

Mon frère a peur du ski, il est très douillet – My brother is afraid of skiing, he’s a wimp

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

He's the legendary Englishman who is surprisingly relevant to French political discourse.

French Expression of the Day: Robin des bois

Why do I need to know Robin des bois?

Because you might be wondering why the French reference this English outlaw during protest movements 

What does it mean?

Robin des bois roughly pronounced roe-bahn day bwah – is the French version of “Robin Hood” – the legendary outlaw who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. 

Robin Hood is part of English folklore, with the first references to him occurring sometime during the 13th or 14th century. He did not become Robin des bois for some time – as the legend did not spread to the majority of French people until at least the 18th or 19th century. 

Robin des bois most likely made his big entrance on the French stage in the 19th century when the novel Ivanhoe (1819), which tells tales of medieval England, was translated into French. 

The fabled outlaw was welcomed by the French, particularly romantic writers and thinkers of the time who saw him as a symbol of the fight against the aristocracy. 

But the French had their own versions of Robin Hood before the English legend made its way to l’Hexagone – like the “Louis Mandrin” who supposedly rebelled against corrupt tax collectors during the Ancien Regime. 

Over the years, the French – particularly those on the political left – have evoked “Robin des bois” during strikes and protests, and it’s relatively common to see protest movements or direct action groups name themselves after Robin Hood.

The English outlaw also had his own French television series between 1963 and 1966 – though this time he was called “Thierry La Fronde” and he lived in France during the Hundred Years’ War.

Use it like this

Nous devons nous attaquer aux actions de Robin des Bois afin d’aider la classe ouvrière à payer leurs factures d’énergie, a déclaré le syndicat dans un communiqué de presse. – We must take action like Robin Hood to help the working class pay for their energy bills, the union said in a flyer. 

Le restaurateur était un véritable Robin des Bois – il avait tendance à surfacturer les tables des riches et à sous-facturer celles de la classe populaire. – The restaurant owner was a real Robin Hood – he had a tendency of overcharging tables of rich people and under-charging those of poor folks.