For members


French Word of the Day: Cagole

This originally pejorative term from the southeast of France has been reclaimed by feminists in recent years, but can still be quite divisive.

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

Why do I need to know cagole?

Because it is a very commonly used word in big southeastern cities like Marseille – and carries a surprising level of nuance. 

What does it mean?

Pronounced “cag-ole”, this word loosely translates as “bimbo” or perhaps “trailer trash”.

It is typically used to refer to the stereotype of an overly-made up, fake-tanned, high-heeled, short-skirted female resident of Marseille. 

There is also male equivalent – cacou – to denote a muscled man, with a T-shirt several sizes too small, with gleaming white teeth and a BMW… you get the idea. A cacou is the Ken doll/himbo equivalent to the cagole

The word cagole is thought to come from the early 20th-century Provençal word, cagoulo, which was the name of the apron worn by women working in date-processing factories. Others claim it comes from the Pronençale verb, caga, which means “to poop”. 

Either way, cagole, has long been seen as a pejorative way to refer to women. But that is beginning to change. 

READ MORE French regional stereotypes: Grumpy Parisians and drunk northerners

Since 1997, an annual Miss Cagole competition has been held, mostly in Marseille. At the beginning, this competition was a pure celebration of cagole culture, a sort of trashy version of the glamorous Miss France.

In recent years though, this competition has placed an emphasis on eco-mindedness and feminism as important cagole qualities. 

Use it like this

On dirait de cette femme que c’est une cagole – We would say that this woman is a bimbo

La cagole est à la mode – Bimboisim is fashionable 

C’est vrai que la cagole n’est pas que Marseillaise, on la retrouve un peu partout – It is true that bimbos are not just from Marseille, we find them everywhere

Dans la culture gay, le terme cagole est repris pour qualifier un homme qui porte tous les signes de la féminité – In gay culture, the term cagole is taken to describe a man who carries all the signs of femininity 





Please note that you should avoid these terms in polite and even most informal conversations. 

Member comments

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


French Expression of the Day: Un de ces quatres

The perfect response to that invitation you don't really want to say a firm yes to.

French Expression of the Day:  Un de ces quatres

Why do I need to know un de ces quatres?

Because you will probably hear this phrase while trying to make plans with someone in French

What does it mean?

Un de ces quatres – usually pronounced uhn duh say cat-truhs – translates exactly to “one of these fours.” If taken literally the phrase really does not make any sense in French or English. But in actuality, it means “one of these days,” “at some point,” or just “soon.”

This expression is a shortening of “one of these four mornings to come,” which was first used in the second half of the 19th century. It designates a time that is sometime in the near future, but still rather indeterminate.

In French, the number ‘four’ is often used in expressions to refer to imprecise, or small, quantities. Some people say this is because four is the number for the seasons and cardinal points (North, South, East, West), so saying ‘one of these four’ shows a level of ambiguity. But unfortunately we don’t really know exactly how (or why) this phrase arose.

If you want another way of saying this, you can always stick with the regular “un de ces jours” (one of these days).

Use it like this

J’ai été tellement occupée ces derniers temps mais nous devrons prendre un verre un de ces quatres. – I’ve been so busy lately, but we have to grab a drink one of these days.

Il m’a dit qu’il nettoierait la salle de bain un de ces quatres, donc je suppose que ça n’a pas encore été fait. – He told me he would clean the bathroom one of these days, so I guess it hasn’t been done yet.