For members


French Word of the Day: Chouchou

It is about time that we included this adorable sounding word into our Word of the Day series.

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

Why do I need to know chouchou? 

Because it has versatile meanings and sounds nice. 

What does it mean?

Chouchou, pronounced “shou-shou”, has a variety of uses. 

The first is as a childish term of endearment to imply that someone is the favourite person in the group – to this end, it is often used in a school setting, typically to say that someone is a teacher’s pet.

If the person in question is a girl or woman, you should use the word chouchoute instead. The masculine or mixed plural is chouchoux and the feminine plural is chouchoutes

In a more serious context, you can use it to mean that someone is the ‘darling’ or the favourite of a particular political group or movement.

As a verb, you can use chouchouter to mean “to spoil” or “to pamper”. 

Chouchou is also the word for a hairband or scrunchy that could be used to hold a pony tail or a bun together. 

There is also a kind of sugarcoated peanut in France – a traditional sweet – which are known as chouchous

Use it like this

C’est le chouchou de la maîtresse – It is the teacher’s pet 

De chouchou à cancre du gouvernement, la descente aux enfers de Jean-Michel Blanquer – From the darling to the dunce of government, the descent into hell of Jean-Michel Blanquer (a critical news headline concerning France’s education minister).

Je veux te chouchouter – I want to spoil you 

J’ai besoin d’un chouchou pour maintenir ma queue-de-cheval – I need a scrunchy to hold my ponytail in place 


Another way to describe someone as being the favourite is as la coqueluche (although the primary meaning of this word is the contagious disease whooping cough).

Carla Bruni était la coqueluche des médias – Carla Bruni was a favourite of the media. 

You can also used the following adjectives to describe someone as the favourite: favori, préféré, privilégie 

A rude alternative to chouchou, to insultingly describe someone as showing sycophantic behaviour to become the favourite of someone in authority in lèche-cul – “arse licker”. 

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

A brand new coinage in the French language that reflects the changing times.

French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

Why do I need to know la Première ministre?

Because France has one now.

What does it mean?

La Première ministre – usually pronounced lah prem-ee-air mean-east-ruh– translates as “the prime minister,” but this spelling is different from what you might be used to seeing.

This title is feminised, indicating that the prime minister in question is a woman. Under former PMs such as Jean Castex, the masculine title Le Premier ministre was used.

Élisabeth Borne made headlines on May 16th not only because she was appointed as France’s second female prime minister, but also because she will be the first to use the feminisation of the work title: Madame la Première ministre. The female prime minister who held the position before her, Edith Cresson, used the masculine version of the title.

Feminising work titles has been controversial in France, and most titles like “le Premier ministre” have been automatically put in masculine form.

But in 2019, France’s infamous Academie Francaise, which polices the French language and typically resists any sweeping changes to it, changed their stance and said there was “no obstacle in principle” to the wholesale feminisation of job titles. 

Use it like this

Le Président Emmanuel Macron a fait une annonce importante. Élisabeth Borne est la Première ministre. – President Emmanuel Macron made an important announcement: Élisabeth Borne is the prime minister.

“Madame la Première ministre, qui avez-vous choisi pour diriger votre nouveau gouvernement ?” a demandé le journaliste. – “Madame Prime Minister, who have you chosen to lead your new government?” asked the journalist.