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French word of they day: Riquiqui

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French word of they day: Riquiqui
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

If somebody describes you this way, you should probably take offence.

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Why do I need to know riquiqui?

Because it sounds playful, which could give you the wrong impression when it comes up in conversation.

What does it mean?

Riquiqui is an informal term which means “very small”. It may sound like a cute way of describing something, but it’s often used to ridicule something, to make fun of or complain about how small it is. For example, if you're moaning about the size of your meal in a restaurant, and want to be almost dismissive about what you've been served, you can use riquiqui.

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It’s often used in combination with a high-pitched voice or a hand gesture to emphasise just how tiny the thing is.

The word may look like a strange jumble of letters, but it’s easy enough to pronounce. The vowel sound is the same in all three syllables, because you do not pronounce the u, so it sounds like the French words riz qui qui.

For that reason, you might see it written rikiki. There is not one agreed-upon spelling because this word is mainly used in spoken French.

Use it like this

J’ai pas envie de vivre à Paris dans un appartement riquiqui – I don’t want to live in Paris in a tiny apartment

Je peux rien mettre dans mon sac, il est tellement riquiqui – I can’t fit anything in my bag, it’s so tiny

Les portions servies dans ce restaurant sont vraiment rikiki – The portion sizes in this restaurant are really miniscule

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