French word of the day: Lèche-bottes

French word of the day: Lèche-bottes
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Why licking people's boots in France isn't great.

Why do I need to know lèche-bottes?

Because it’s one of those common insults that make a lot of sense once you understand the translation.

What does it mean?

Lèche-bottes directly translates as ‘lick-boots’, and is the French equivalent to boot-licker or a suck-up.

Pronounced “lesh-bott”, un lèche-bottes is someone who flatte servilement (slavishly flatters), according to French dictionary Larousse

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Other English terms for that is a ‘suck up’ or ‘kiss-ass’.

Generally, lèche-bottes is used to describe someone who sucks up to their boss or other authority figures.

Both the plural version lèche-bottes and the singular lèche-botte are approved by French language guardian Académie Française, which traces its origins back to the 20th century.

It’s a colloquial term and probably poorly suited for dinners with the French in-laws or a meeting with your boss. A more family-friendly version is fayot, or fayot de la classe, which means ‘teacher’s pet’. 

Use it like this

Il y a trop de lèche-bottes dans cette entreprise. Personne n’ose dire ce qu’ils pensent vraiment. – There are too many boot-lickers in this business. No one dares to say what they really think.

Oh, ça va, la lèche-botte. Je sais que tu n’es pas d’accord avec moi. Sois franche ! – Oh, come on, you suck up. I know you don’t agree with me. Be honest !

Qu’est-ce qu’on a marre des lèche-bottes.. – We’re so sick of people kissing ass..


Lèche-cul – ass-licker (brownnose)

Flatteur – flatterer 

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