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French word of the Day: Pimbêche

It's an insult that can only be applied to one gender.

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

Why do I need to know pimbêche?

According to the Canard Enchâiné, former president Nicolas Sarkozy called Valérie Pécresse (presidential candidate for his former party) pimbêche after meeting with her in December. 

What does it mean?

Pimbêche has been in the dictionary since the 17th century. It’s a familiar noun that is a way of saying someone is “stuck-up” – but it’s only applied to women. It is a contemptuous word only used when addressing a woman whom you find pretentious, with a haughty attitude. 

Pimbêche like mijaurée (snooty) is a noun that is only used to describe women. They have no direct equivalent for men.

Bêcheur exists and is a masculine noun, it is probably the closest equivalent to pimbêche but then again, you’re more likely to hear the feminine version bêcheuse for someone who’s attitude you dislike.

Use it like this

Quelle pimbêche ! – She’s so stuck up

Elle se prend pour qui celle-là ? C’est une vraie pimbêche ! – Who does she think she is? She’s so pretentious


Mijaurée – Snooty

Member comments

  1. Love these articles! To be accused of a haughty attitude by Nicolas Sarkozy, of all people, must have been a bit rich.

  2. Eric Zemmour sounds like another version française of Donald Trump.
    It’s hard to believe that Trump has so many clones spread all over the world.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.