For members


Word of the day: Footix

When discussing football with friends or colleagues, you’ll want to avoid being accused of this ultimate sin.

Word of the day: Footix

Why do I need to know Footix?

Because if France does well at Euro 2020, it could make a comeback.

What does it mean?

It broadly refers to football supporters who aren’t seen as being sufficiently “legitimate” by other fans. For example, somebody who expresses a strong opinion about a player based on a single game.

World Cup 98 mascot Footix Photo by Eric CABANIS / AFP

Footix was the name of the cartoon rooster chosen as the mascot for the 1998 World Cup in France. While the sport didn’t have the greatest reputation in France at the time, when the host country won the competition, lots of French people jumped on the bandwagon and began supporting the team. Those who had been following Les Bleus since the beginning began using the name as an insult towards these new fans.

Today, the term has taken on a broader meaning. It can still be used when there’s an international tournament, and suddenly people who don’t usually follow football are discussing the matches.

But it can also apply to club football. Much like “glory hunter” or “plastic fan”, Footix now refers to somebody who supports the most successful team of the day, only to dump them for a different club at the first sign of trouble.

L’Equipe has even published a guide for how to spot a Footix. According to the newspaper, a Footix will “come to the stadium wearing another team’s shirt”, “comes to watch videos on their phone”, and “comes to the stadium but doesn’t sing”.

Use it like this

Il faut que je me renseigne, je ne veux pas passer pour un Footix – I need to do some research, I don’t want to be taken for an armchair supporter.

C’est un Footix, il a un nouveau club toutes les semaines – He’s a fair-weather fan, he has a new club every week.

Ne l’écoute pas, c’est un Footix – Don’t listen to him, he’s not a real football fan.

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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.