French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève

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French Phrase of the Day: Syndrome de la bonne élève
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why being a good pupil can sometimes be … bad.


Why do I need to know Syndrome de la bonne élève?

Feeling under-valued at work despite doing everything - and more - asked of you? You may have ‘good student syndrome’.

What does it mean?

Syndrome de la bonne élève - pronounced sin-dromm de la bon ell-evv - translates, as we’ve already hinted, as good student syndrome. 

You may well also see it written as syndrome du bon élève (pronounced sin-dromm doo bon ell-evv) - but this is predominantly a female issue.

It refers to someone in the workplace who tries their hardest to work to the rules, do all the jobs asked of them - and more - and yet is overlooked in favour of co-workers who don’t necessarily put in the same hard graft.


It’s not an official ‘syndrome’, but mental health experts do recognise it in many people - particularly women.

It is a hangover, according to features in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, from school days when girls are considered to be harder workers and less trouble than their boy counterparts.

Marie Claire labelled it a “destructive perfectionism … which affects the mental health of the women they become, while preventing them from embracing positions of responsibility’.’

Use it like this

Le syndrome de la bonne élève touche essentiellement les femmes dans le monde occidental. – Good student syndrome mainly affects women in the Western world.

Cette question d’éducation est d’autant plus marquante que le syndrome du « bon élève » affecte généralement les femmes - This question of education is all the more striking because "good student" syndrome generally affects women


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