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French Word of the Day: Tartufferie

If you're looking for an insult that proves your credentials as a cultured and literary individual, look no further.

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

Why do I need to know tartufferie? 

Because 400 years since the birth of Molière, people in France are still insulting each other with reference to one of his plays. 

What does it mean? 

Tartufferie, pronounced “tar-toof-erry” and sometimes spelt tartuferie, is a French way of saying “hypocrisy”. 

It comes from the work of famed playwright Molière, widely considered the French Shakespeare. 

READ MORE France marks 400 years of Molière, master of stage and satire

Probably his best-known play is Tartuffe, in which the title character presents himself as a pious man, while sneakily attempting to seduce the lady of the household where he is staying as a guest. 

Since then, the word tartuffe has become shorthand for “hypocrite” or someone who feigns religious or other virtue. 

It follows that tartufferie means “hypocrisy”. 

You often hear politicians in France accusing each other of tartufferie. 


Pour les oppositions tout est scandale. Quelle tartufferie de faire croire qu’appliquer la Constitution est une atteinte à la démocratie – For the opposition everything is a scandal. What hypocrisy to make out that applying the constitution is an attack on democracy

On est au bal total des tartuffes en Macronie – We are totally fed up with the hypocrisy of Macronism

La campagne électorale, c’est une grande tartufferie! – The electoral campaign is a big exercise in hypocrisy


Duplicité – duplicity 

Hypocrisie – hypocrisy 

Tromperie – skullduggery 

Faire passer pour – to pass off as

Mascarade – mascarade 

Fausseté – falsehood 

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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.