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French expression of the day: Être une pince

French expression of the day: Être une pince
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This expression sounds confusingly like its talking about a 'prince', but it has nothing to do with royals.

Why do I need to know être une pince?

Because, if someone tells you tu es une pince, you want to know that it doesn’t mean tu es un prince – you’re a prince.

What does it mean?

Une pince looks and sounds confusingly like un prince, although the first one is feminine and lacks an R. 

It makes all the difference though. While un prince refers to ‘a prince’, une pince means ‘tweezers’ – the tool people use to pluck their eyebrows.

Être une pince therefore translates as ‘to be a pair of tweezers’. 

As you may have guessed, this expression is metaphorical. ‘Being tweezers’ is a slangy way of saying that someone is radin (stingy). 

The idea is that tweezers can pick up very small things, not letting even the tiniest hairs get away. It’s similar to the English expression ‘penny-pincher’. 

Être une pince is a colloquial expression, though not vulgar. Other options for English equivalents are are ‘tightwad’ or ‘cheapskate’.

Use it like this

Ce type et une pince, alors si j’étais toi je ne lui demanderais pas d’argent. – That guy is a real cheapskate, so if I were you I wouldn’t ask him for money.

Mon père est une vraie pince. Il ne dépense jamais un sou s’il peut l’éviter. – My father is a real tightwad. He never spends a dime if he can avoid it.

Tu es une pince, tu le sais ? – You’re a real penny-pincher, you know?

Synonyms

Radin – stingy


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