French Word of the Day: Charognard

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

It's an important part of the food chain, but it can also be an insult.


Why do I need to know charognard?

Because this term might pop up while watching the nature channel, or in some unhappier contexts. 

What does it mean?

Charognard - roughly pronounced shar-oh-neearr - is defined as a ‘scavenger’ or ‘animal that feeds on decaying matter’.

You might come across it while watching a National Geographic special.

But you could hear it used to denounce the behaviour of others.

In the figurative sense, the word refers to someone who ‘profits from the suffering of others’. This is similar to the English use of the term ‘vulture’ - a contemptible person who exploits others or tries to benefit from a tragedy.


This insult might be levied after tragedy, particularly if a political party or actor appears to be using the situation for their own gain.

Most recently, Olivier Véran, the Macron government spokesperson, referred to far-right groups rallying after the death of a French teenager to be a bunch of charognards.

You might also hear the media referred to in this way, if they are judged to be insensitive or trying to exploit a tragedy.

Occasionally, you might see people use the French term for vulture, vautour, to achieve the same effect, but charognard is more common.

Use it like this

Ce ne sont que des charognards qui exploitent la situation. Ne leur faites pas confiance. - They’re just vultures exploiting the situation. Do not trust them.

Cet avocat est un charognard. Il n'apparaît que lorsqu'une tragédie se produit. - That lawyer is a vulture. He only shows up when tragedy happens.


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christopher hobday 2023/12/01 11:52
Similar to English "carrion"

See Also