French Word of the Day: Écœurant

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

This French word might describe your feelings toward fast-food.


Why do I need to know écœurant?

Because you might want to be offended if your French friends refer to your cooking this way.

What does it mean?

Écœurant - roughly pronounced ay-cure-ahn - is technically defined as something that “lifts the heart” (qui soulève le cœur), which might sound positive, but in reality it is referring to a different sensation altogether: heartburn.

The adjective is a way to describe food or a meal, though it can be used in some other contexts too.

Generally, it refers to food that is sickening, nauseating, or even repulsive, although it can just mean something that you scoffed and is now making you feel a bit sick or is giving you heartburn. 

It is similar to the expression ‘j'ai mal au cœur’ which means feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach (not having an emotional heart-ache).


While écœurant is technically the opposite of ‘bon’ or ‘appétissant’ (appetising), you might still hear a French person use it after eating something they liked. 

In this context, your friend may have scarfed down a heavy burger and, while delicious, it did not do their stomach any favours. 

Use it like this

J'aime McDonalds, mais c'est la plupart du temps écœurant. - I love McDonalds, but most of the time it makes me nauseous.

Les tacos français sont tellement lourds et écœurants, mais je continue à en manger chaque fois que nous sortons. - French tacos are so heavy and sick-making, but I still eat them every time we go out partying.


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