French word of the day: Frileux

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French word of the day: Frileux

The perfect word for use during the age-old and world-wide argument between colleagues and roommates.


Why do I need to know frileux?

Because it’s perfect to use when asking somebody to close the window because it’s bloody cold actually.

What does it mean?

With France experiencing an unusually cold start to the summer, friendship groups are divided between shorts-wearers and those who aren’t yet ready to give up their jumpers. Luckily, if you find yourself in the latter camp, there is a word in French to justify your choice.


Frileux (or frileuse in the feminine form) is an adjective which describes somebody who is sensitive to the cold. It comes from the Latin frigorosus, meaning “cold”.

Strangely, there is no single widely-used English word which refers to those of us who like to wrap up warm. According to Wikipedia, the English term is “psychrosensitive”, although if you’re from the north of England you might be used to describing as “nesh” any softie who insists on wearing a jacket in Newcastle in January.

Frileux can also be used figuratively, to refer to somebody who is risk-averse or scared of stepping into the unknown.

Earlier this year, BFMTV asked, “Vaccin : les Français trop frileux ?” (Vaccines: are the French too timid?)

Use it like this

Ma coloc veut toujours allumer le chauffage, elle est vraiment frileuse – My flatmate always wants to put the heating on, she’s really sensitive to the cold.

Je suis Ecossais, je ne suis pas frileux ! – I’m Scottish, I’m not soft about the cold!

Il ne veut pas s’engager dans une relation, il est frileux – He doesn’t want to start a relationship, he’s afraid of change.


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