For members


French Word of the Day: Benjamin

If your name is Benjamin be prepared for some confusion over whether you are also 'a benjamin'.

French Word of the Day: Benjamin
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know the word Benjamin? 

Because not all Benjamins are are actually Benjamins. It is best to avoid any Benjamin-related confusion. 

What does it mean? 

Benjamin (pronounced ‘bon-ja-man’) is a word used to designate the youngest person in a group, or the youngest member of a set of siblings. 

French people started using the word for this purpose in the 18th century but its origins go back further than that. 

In the Bible, the Book of Genesis tells us that Benjamin is the youngest son of Jacob – a man who had 13 children by four different wives. This is where the French inspiration for Benjamin comes from. 

This is used for women and girls as well – if the youngest person in the group is a female, you can use Benjamine instead. 

Use it like this:

Le nouveau benjamin de l’Assemblée Nationale ne s’attendait pas à être élu – The new youngest member of the National Assembly did not expect to be elected. 

Sandrine est notre benjamine – Sandrine is our youngest child

Je ne suis pas le benjamin – I am not the youngest one 


There are several nouns you can use to describe someone as a youngster: 

Le petiot / la petiote

Le gamin / la gamine

Le bambin / la bambine 

Le marmot (mostly applies to boys)

Le mioche 

READ ALSO English boys’ names that mean something very different in French 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Avoir des idées arrêtées

This type of person knows what they like, and more importantly, what they don't like.

French Expression of the Day: Avoir des idées arrêtées

Why do I need to know avoir des idées arrêtées ?

Because your friend who will only watch certain movie genres might be described this way.

What does it mean?

Avoir des idées arrêtées roughly pronounced ah vwar dayz ee-day arr-eh-tay –  translates precisely to “to have stopped ideas.” 

In its normal usage, the phrase translates more accurately as “to have strong opinions” or “to have fixed ideas” – being uncompromising in your one’s viewpoints. 

Another way to describe this type of person in French might be “catégorique” (or ‘categorical’ in English). 

You might also hear this expression as “des idées bien arrêtées” – meaning someone who has ‘very’ strong opinions. Depending on context, this phrase might have a bit of a negative connotation, particularly if it is being used to portray someone as being stubborn.

Use it like this

Elle a des idées arrêtées sur les films, comme elle refuse de regarder tout autre film que ceux de Marvel. Elle ne veut même pas regarder les films DC. – She has very strong opinions about films, for instance she only watches Marvel movies. She won’t even watch DC movies.

Tout le monde dit qu’il a des opinions arrêtées, mais je l’ai trouvé flexible sur certaines choses… comme le choix d’un restaurant. – Everyone says he is uncompromising, but I find him to be flexible on some things, like choosing a restaurant.