French word of the Day: Débile

French word of the day is debile
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Not one you'll want to use with your nearest and dearest, but this is a very common French insult.

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?

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

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. 

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.