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French Word of the Day: Quiche

While quiche may be a quintessential French dish, you certainly don't want to be labeled one.

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

Why do I need to know quiche? 

Because if someone calls you quiche, you have the right to be insulted. 

What does it mean? 

Quiche, pronounced keesh, is a classic French savoury tart. 

If you have been in France for some time, there is no doubt that you have enjoyed a quiche Lorraine – a version which contains lardons or bacon – at some point.

However, this word is also used as an insult to describe someone as stupid or clumsy. 

Vous êtes vraiment une quiche – You are truly an idiot 

Quelle bande de quiche – What a group of fools 

If you want to use quiche as a noun, to the same end, you can call someone an espèce de quiche – which literally translates as species of quiche. 

Casses-toi espèce de quiche ! – Get out of here you idiot!

Quiche is thought to have come from a now defunct form of German, where it was variously written as kuoche, kuocho or kuoho. It was first written in French at some point in the early 19th Century. 

While it is certainly rude to use quiche as an insult, most French people would not consider it to be a swear word. It is a bit like calling someone a nitwit. 

Other uses of quiche 

Unfortunately, the weaponisation of quiche does not stop there. 

In French, quiche can also mean slap. 

Continue comme ça et tu vas te prendre une quiche ! – Continue like that and you will get a slap 

As a verb, quicher, is a slang way to talk about vomiting. 

J’ai quiché dans la voiture – I threw up in the car

J’ai besoin de quicher – I need to be sick 

Member comments

  1. There’s a possibly apochryphal story that some English speakers think the “que” ending of quiche is pronounced “kay”. Which can lead to unfortunate misinterpretation when, for example, you might invite a new acquaintance: “Fancy going back to my place for a quiche?”

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La clim’

You'll definitely want to know about this during the summer.

French Expression of the Day: La clim'

Why do I need to know la clim’?

Because the lack of green spaces in cities might find you looking desperately for fresh air.

What does it mean?

La clim’, pronounced la-cleem, means air conditioning, it is a shortened version of la climatisation.

Climatisation comes from the word climatiseur, which itself comes from Klima in Greek and means the inclination of planet Earth from the equator to the poles. This inclination of the planet on its axis is responsible for the seasons and if you find yourself in a French city in August your inclination will definitely be towards climatisation.

Air-conditioning in private homes is not common France, some hotels have it but not all and in the summer months restaurants will often advertise air-con if they have it, as a way of luring in hot-and-bothered tourists.

If you find yourself desperate for cool air, head to a supermarket – almost all French supermarkets are air-conditioned in the summer. Or for a more fun option just head to the nearest city fountain or water feature and join the locals who are splashing around to cool off.

Use it like this

Il fait très chaud, avez-vous la clim’ dans votre hotel ? – It’s really hot, do you have air-con in the hotel?

Je n’aime pas mettre la clim’ en route car cela est mauvais pour la santé et l’environnement – I don’t like turning on the AC, it’s bad for my health and for the environment

Il fait froid, peut-on s’il vous plait éteindre la clim’ ? – It’s cold, could  we turn off the air-con?

La clim’ fait beaucoup de bruit, pouvons-nous la mettre en sourdine ? – This AC is really noisy, could we turn it down?


Un climatiseur – the formal name for an air-conditioner (in French the air conditioning is feminine by the air conditioner is masculine)

Un ventilateur – a ventilator

Un Brumisateur – a ‘fogger’ – these machines which pump out cool water vapour are often seen on the streets and in parks during the summer

Un Rafraichisseur d’air – an air freshener