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French word of the Day: Débile

Not one you'll want to use with your nearest and dearest, but this is a very common French insult.

French word of the day is debile
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know débile?

You might not want to use it unless you’re feeling particularly exasperated but you will hear it a lot, so it’s worth knowing.

What does it mean?

It means stupid, but if you’re using it as an insult it’s pretty strong, like calling someone a ‘moron’ or an ‘imbecile’.

You can use it to describe both a person or a thing and it you’re using it for a thing it’s less strong – like describing something as stupid, lame or crazy.

READ ALSO What’s the worst possible insult you can use in French?

Use it like this

Il m’a traité de débile, je ne pouvais pas le croire – He called me an imbecile, I couldn’t believe it

L’idée d’un objectif maximal de recyclage est débile – The idea of a maximum target for recycling is completely dumb
Une autre example d’un homme politique débile – Another example of a moron politician


The French language has a lot of ways to call a person or a thing stupid including con, idiot, crétin, incapable, incompétent, stupide as well as nul which means ‘zero’ but is often used to say a thing is stupid or lame.

Some of these can actually be quite affectionate, you’ll hear groups of male friends saying to each other T’es con (you’re an idiot) if for example someone tells a bad joke, but it’s rare that débile would be used in this way. 

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French Expression of the Day: Faire d’une pierre deux coups

The most organised of people will likely make use of this handy French Expression.

French Expression of the Day: Faire d’une pierre deux coups

Why do I need to know faire d’une pierre deux coups ?

Because you might want to use this expression after a particularly productive errand-running-day. 

What does it mean?

Faire d’une pierre deux coups – roughly pronounced fair doon pee-air duh koo – translates exactly to “make one rock two shots.” 

If your first instinct is to find it similar to the English expression, “to kill two birds with one stone,” then you would be correct. The French expression carries the same meaning as the English one – which is to achieve two goals at the same time.

The origin of this phrase – for both languages – goes back to the time when people used to hunt with a sling. It would be a great achievement for a hunter to manage to kill two birds with a single stone. 

The expression is still used today, with variations in several different languages, even though most of mankind no longer uses stones to hunt. Nevertheless – it is quite a feat to manage to accomplish two distinct goals in just one action.

Use it like this

J’ai fait d’une pierre deux coups en achetant le cadeau et le repas au même endroit. – I killed two birds with one stone by buying the gift and the meal at the same place.

Vous pouvez faire d’une pierre deux coups en postant votre lettre en même temps que vous récupérez votre colis?  – You could kill two birds with one stone by mailing your letter at the same time as picking up your package?