For members


French word of the day: Bondé

This isn't a word you want to have to use during a pandemic.

French word of the day: Bondé
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do in need to know bondé?

It’s particularly useful during the summer, or all year round if you live in Paris.

What does it mean?

Bondé means “full” or “packed”. Public transport, bars, beaches, shops… These are just some of the things you might refer to as bondé. It’s for when a place is bursting at the seams because there are so many people packed together.

It is usually reserved for talking about places crammed with people, but you might also hear it used in reference to objects.

A bonde is a plug such as you might find on the top of a wine barrel, and bonder means to fill something up to the plug, or the bung. So when you describe a venue as bondé, you might be paying homage to one of France’s greatest and most delicious traditions.

Not to be confused with the verb bander, which sounds almost identical when spoken and means “to have an erection”. Context is your friend here!

Use it like this

Le supermarché était bondé ce matin – The supermarket was jam-packed this morning.

Les Champs-Elysées étaient bondés de supporters quand la France a gagné la Coupe du monde – The Champs-Elysées was packed with supporters when France won the World Cup.

J’aime pas la Côte d’Azur, les plages sont toujours bondées – I don’t like the French Riviera, the beaches are always overcrowded.


Noir de monde – crammed

Comble – full to capacity

Bourré – packed

Member comments

  1. Possibly a better, more vernacular, translation is ‘rammed’. Do young people still say ‘rammed’? I’m out of touch with them these days.

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Faire le malin

Maybe this describes that other English-speaker you know who is just a little too proud of their French skills

French Expression of the Day:  Faire le malin

Why do I need to know faire le malin?

Because you might need a phrase to describe the guy who was a little too proud of how easy it was to find his fancy new apartment 

What does it mean?

Faire le malin – usually pronounced “air luh mah-lahn” – literally translates to “to be clever” but in practice the phrase is used to mean “show off,” “boast” or “brag.”  It can sometimes have a connotation of making a show with the intention of cheating or being tricky.

The expression supposedly was born out of another, older phrase (from the 1700s) faire le mariole which in itself has two possible origins.

The first is that the word “mariole” comes from the Italian mariolo, which means crook, or trickster, and when it entered the French vocabulary it hung onto its original meaning. The other is that “mariole” is derived from the word marionette – the puppet – which might explain how it came to be connected with boasting or making a show of something. 

Some more colloquial synonyms for this phrase are “frimer,” “faire les zouaves,” or finally, the phrase with a lovely anglicism: “faire le show.”

Use it like this

Il parlait très fort parce qu’il voulait que tout le monde sache que son français était courant. Il faisait vraiment le malin. – He was speaking really loudly because he wanted everyone to know how fluent his French was. He was really showing off.

Vous n’avez pas besoin de faire le malin. Nous savons que vous venez d’avoir une augmentation de salaire. – You don’t need to show off. We know that you just got a pay raise.