For members


French word of the day: Sous-coté

If you feel like you're the only one who feels very passionate about something, this is the word for you.

French word of the day: Sous-coté
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know sous-côté?

This term is a useful way of expressing your likes and dislikes, and is also often used to talk about cultural trends.

What does it mean?

Sous-coté is made up of sous (under) and coté (rated) which comes from cote (rating, popularity) – not to be confused with côté (side).

The closest translation is therefore ‘underrated’ or ‘underestimated’.

The opposite of sous-coté is surcoté (one of those differences that are often tricky for English speakers to pronounce), which means ‘overrated’ or ‘overpriced’.

This song French Youtoubers McFly and Carlito may help you get your head around the concept:

The expression is frequently used by teenagers, who play a game called “sur ou sous-coté?”, which consists in naming things and classifying them as underrated or overrated. However, the word also often appears in sports journalism, particularly when talking about specific players in team sports like football.

Use it like this

Ce film est complètement sous-côté. – This film is totally underrated.

La réglisse est sous-coté, personne aime ça alors que c’est délicieux. – Licorice is underrated, nobody likes it but it’s delicious.

Certaines professions sont sous-cotés. Elles sont peu valorisés par rapport à leur rôle dans la société. – Some professions are underrated. They are not valued enough, given their role in society.


Sous-estimé – underestimated

Sous-évalué  – undervalued

Member comments

  1. I see inconsistencies in the spelling. Sometimes it’s being spelled here sous-côté and sometimes sous-coté.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.