French Word of the Day: Girouette

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

This French word might come up on a windy day.


Why do I need to know une girouette?

Because you’ll hear this French term when talking about politics or while watching a film set on a farm.

What does it mean?

Girouette - roughly pronounced gee-roo-ett - is the French word for a weather vane, the instrument a person would place on top of their home or atop a building in order to figure out the direction the wind is blowing. 

In France le coq français is a popular design for a weather vane on homes.

In French, however, this term can be used colloquially to describe someone who is very inconsistent with their views or opinions. This person might state one opinion and then entirely reverse it the next day, for example.

Oftentimes, you might hear a ‘wishy-washy’ or ‘flip-flop’ politician described this way, and in English we might say that someone is a 'weathercock'. 

To describe someone who does not hold a reliable stance one way or another, you could also use the word ‘pantin’. This is actually a type of doll or puppet, and it means someone ‘without character, who is constantly changing their opinion’.


Use it like this

Je vais acheter une nouvelle girouette pour la maison - I'm going to buy a new weather vane for the house

Comment changer d'idée sans passer pour une girouette ? - How can I change my mind without looking wishy-washy? 

De toutes les girouettes politiques, le maire est la plus capricieuse. Il est incapable de tenir une seule promesse. - Of all the wishy-washy politicians, the mayor is the worst. He cannot maintain a single promise.


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