For members


French word of the day: Chauffard

If you're fed up of French drivers, then this is the word for you.

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

Why do I need to know chauffard?

Because whether you’re driving, walking, or cycling, sometimes you just have to let out your anger.

What does it mean?

A chauffard is a reckless driver. It comes from the word chauffeur (driver), combined with the suffix -ard, which often signifies that a term is pejorative. For example:

–          Ringard (unfashionable)

–          Connard (jerk/arsehole)

–          Bâtard (bastard)

–          Flemmard (lazy)

–          Vantard (bragger)

You may be used to coming across chauffards in France – dangerous drivers who don’t pay attention to other people.

It can be used more or less formally depending on the context. When a woman died earlier this week after a car crashed into a café terrace in Paris, the mayor of the 17th arrondissement tweeted that she had been “percutée par un chauffard” (hit by a reckless driver).

On the more informal end of the spectrum, it can also be used as an exclamation. If a car cuts you off or skips a red light, you can yell, “Chauffard !”.

Use it like this

Chauffard ! C’est un passage piéton ! – Arsehole! It’s a pedestrian crossing!

Conduire à Paris, c’est dangereux, il n’y a que des chauffards – Driving in Paris is dangerous, there’s nothing but reckless drivers

Un chauffard a été arrêté après avoir percuté un cycliste – A reckless driver was arrested after hitting a cyclist

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For members


French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

A brand new coinage in the French language that reflects the changing times.

French Expression of the Day: La Première ministre

Why do I need to know la Première ministre?

Because France has one now.

What does it mean?

La Première ministre – usually pronounced lah prem-ee-air mean-east-ruh– translates as “the prime minister,” but this spelling is different from what you might be used to seeing.

This title is feminised, indicating that the prime minister in question is a woman. Under former PMs such as Jean Castex, the masculine title Le Premier ministre was used.

Élisabeth Borne made headlines on May 16th not only because she was appointed as France’s second female prime minister, but also because she will be the first to use the feminisation of the work title: Madame la Première ministre. The female prime minister who held the position before her, Edith Cresson, used the masculine version of the title.

Feminising work titles has been controversial in France, and most titles like “le Premier ministre” have been automatically put in masculine form.

But in 2019, France’s infamous Academie Francaise, which polices the French language and typically resists any sweeping changes to it, changed their stance and said there was “no obstacle in principle” to the wholesale feminisation of job titles. 

Use it like this

Le Président Emmanuel Macron a fait une annonce importante. Élisabeth Borne est la Première ministre. – President Emmanuel Macron made an important announcement: Élisabeth Borne is the prime minister.

“Madame la Première ministre, qui avez-vous choisi pour diriger votre nouveau gouvernement ?” a demandé le journaliste. – “Madame Prime Minister, who have you chosen to lead your new government?” asked the journalist.