For members


French word of the Day: Nunuche

If you feel like bad-mouthing but a nice way, this word is for you. 

French word of the Day is nunuche
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know Nunuche?

Because it’s a way of criticising a person or a thing, but in a mild and good-natured way. It’s also very idiomatic.

What does it mean? 

Nunuche is used to mean that a person is naïve, simple-minded, but ultimately not malicious. It can also be used for a thing that is silly or inconsequential.

It comes from nunu, a very popular noun after World War I meaning “trifle, silliness,” something without importance or interest. As for uche, it was a typical Parisian slang suffix, connoting friendliness and tenderness. 

Nunuche is believed to have appeared in a Parisian workers’ district between 1925-1930 but now used across the country.

Use it like this

Cette fille est complètement nunuche, non ? – This girl is completely silly, isn’t she?

Arrête de faire ta nunuche ! – Stop acting silly!

Eric m’a raconté une histoire un peu nunuche qui le fait beaucoup rire. – Eric told me a slightly dumb story that makes him laugh of lot. 


Niais – Simple

Bébête – Goofy 

Idiot – Sappy

Fade – Vapid

Stupide – Dumb

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Tête d’ampoule

We are not just talking about the hopping Pixar lamps.

French Expression of the Day: Tête d’ampoule

Why do I need to know tête d’ampoule?

Because you might want to compliment your brainy friend.

What does it mean?

Tête d’ampoule – roughly pronounced tet dahm-pool – translates precisely to “lightbulb head.”

This phrase describes someone who is very smart or intelligent, so the more accurate translation would be “bright” or “brilliant” roughly equivalent of the English phrase “egg-head” or “brain-box”.  

This is a common way younger French people might describe a high-achieving classmate or friend, though sometimes it can be used ironically. 

As you might expect, the phrase is a metaphor –  referring to the idea that the light bulb produces light for others to see. A person described as a “tête d’ampoule” is considered to come up with clever or smart ideas all the time.

The French language loves to describe people based on their heads, for instance, you probably would want to be called a “tête d’ampoule,” but perhaps not a “tête de mule” (mule head), which means stubborn or uncompromising.

READ MORE: French Expression of the Day: La tête froide

Use it like this

Il a inventé beaucoup de choses utiles, il est clairement une tête d’ampoule. – He has invented many useful things, he is clearly brilliant.

Cette tête d’ampoule était major de sa promotion au lycée et elle a été acceptée dans toutes les universités de l’Ivy League. – This genius was valedictorian in high school and she got into all the ivy league universities.

T’as résolu l’énigme en moins de 2 minutes? T’es vraiment une tête d’ampoule – You solved the riddle in under two minutes? You’re really a genius.