The worst words in the French language

After our episode on your favourite French words, we asked for your least favourite – and you delivered!

Here are the top 19 in our latest podcast episode. Please listen by clicking the play button below. Or, just read them if you’re in a rush. BUT, click here to find out how to subscribe to us on iTunes so you can hear more episodes like this. Would mean a lot to us!

1. Serrurerie (locksmiths), says Kevin Knight of Expatriates Magazine Paris.

“I just can’t get my mouth around it and on the rare occasion I need to use it my mouth goes into gymnastics and I look ridiculous,” he says.

2. Aurore, the name, says Diane who runs Oui in France.

“It is so difficult! It comes out more like horreur if I’m not paying attention,” she says.

3. Blogueuse (a female blogger), says Clothilde from Chocolate and Zucchini.

“The sound of it is very ugly, so I always say ‘I write a blog’ instead.”

4. Fourrure (fur) says Maggie Kim of the blog Les Lolos.

“Impossible to pronounce, I try and avoid the word. I just say it in English.”

5. Putain (whore), says Gail of Perfectly Paris.

“I get so sick of hearing this word, everyone is using it every five seconds.”

6. Bah oui (a filler word) says author Lauren Collins, who wrote “When in French“.

“I can’t stand it. It’s my least favourite filler word in the French language,” she says.

7. Ben, bon (more filler words), says author Lindsey Tramuta, who wrote The New Paris.

“They’re just drawn out words that don’t sound much like French,” she says.

8. Interdit (forbidden), says Véronique from the French Girl in Seattle site.

“When you grow up in France, you see the word everywhere! The word is so final and unpleasant, and it typically comes with that horrid bright red sign, in case you are too daft to understand.”

9. Grenouille (frog), says Guy Griffin of Café Oberkampf.

“When I got to France all the kids teased me and made me say it, it took about 2 years before I could say it,” he says.

10. Huit/Huitre (eight/oyster), says Emily Monaco from Emily in France.

“I hate the words because they sound the same,” she says.

11. Accueil (welcome) says Lina, our graphic designer (follow her on Instagram here).

“It sounds like a dying war cry,” she says.

12. Bourgueil (a place and a wine), says Jennifer from the Chez Loulou blog.

“It’s not because I don’t like the town or the wine, quite the opposite in fact, but because I can NEVER pronounce it correctly,” she says.

13. Bouilloire (kettle), Lily who wrote Je T’Aime, Me Neither.

“It has all the horrible letters and it’s impossible for anglophones to pronounce.”

14. Rentrée (when you come back from holidays), says Corey Frye the tour guide.

“It’s all about hurtling back to reality, like a spaceship coming back into the atmosphere.”

15. Ecureuil says Frank from Cake boy Paris (find his Instagram here).

“I’ve had more than a few embarrassing moments trying to pronounce my dog’s favourite fixation. This word makes me so squirrelly!”


16. Animateur, says translator Jann in Paris.

“It can mean anything from a party clown to a manager to a trainer to an MC, there are too many definitions for it. The verb animer is even trickier.”

17. Truc (thingy) says Sarah the interpreter (find her on Twitter here).

“It’s overused, too much meaning crammed into a tiny word.”

18. Croûtes (crusts or scabs), says producer James.

“Mixing food and scabs is never great,” he says.

19. En haut (upstairs), says host Oliver.

“I can’t pronounce it and it gets me mixed up whenever I hear it.”

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Further listening:

If you like this episode, then head over to our language section. Why not start with the 24 best words in the French language?

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