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French word of the Day: Paperasse

French word of the Day: Paperasse
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Welcome to France's real religion.

Why do I need to know paperasse?

Because if you’re going to be spending much time in France you will almost certainly be doing a lot of this.

What does it mean?

Online dictionary Le Robert defines it as, “Written papers, seen as useless or cumbersome”. Which means it’s sure to come in handy whenever you feel like complaining about French bureaucracy.

It can be translated as “paperwork”, and can be used in a general sense to refer to administrative tasks, or it can also refer to physical papers which are littered across a desk.

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See also on The Local:

It may sound playful, but it can be used to express a sense of exasperation.

This is because France really, really loves paperwork and everyone – French people included – enjoys complaining about the endless forms.

READ ALSO From dossier to notaire: French bureaucracy explained

This is perfectly illustrated in the Netflix series Lupin, when the protagonist disguises himself as a police officer in order to steal from an old woman, and he is able to get the real police officers to go along with him by promising, “Je m’occupe de la paperasse” (I’ll take care of the paperwork). Because that’s an offer nobody could refuse!

Bureaucracy comes with its own very specific vocabulary – check out The Local’s guide here

Use it like this

Elle a quitté son boulot ; elle en avait marre de la paperasse – She quit her job; she was fed up with the admin.

Je ne suis pas quelqu’un de très organisé, mon bureau est toujours recouvert de paperasse – I’m not a very organised person, my desk is always covered in papers.

Ils ont modifié la loi, ça va me faire encore de la paperasse ! – They’ve changed the law, that’s going to mean even more paperwork for me!


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