There are many expressions in English to say that something (or someone!) is “stupid.” “A sandwich short of a picnic”, “sixpence short of a shilling”, “rowing with one oar in the water”… and many more.
In French, the adjectives “Stupide” and “Idiot” are transparent words — it’s pretty obvious that they mean “stupid”. But, there are also more casual and colorful expressions you might not know about. And you’d probably like to understand what they mean, especially if people use them around you!
So, today I’m going to show you 7 different ways to say ‘stupid’ in French.
Learning goals: This is what you’ll be able to do after watching this lesson
- Beginner: Understand the different ways to say ‘stupid’ in French
- Intermediate: Learn all the French expressions for stupid
- Advanced: Study the examples and feel confident using them in everyday French conversation
Bonjour I’m Géraldine, your French teacher.
Welcome to Comme une Française!
I’m here to help you speak everyday modern French with confidence.
Want all the vocabulary of the lesson ?
Want to read this lesson later ?
1) Bercé trop près du mur
Tu as été bercé trop près du mur ! literally means, “You’ve been cradled too close to the wall!”
It’s a hard-hitting expression. It implies that someone is so dumb, they must have had brain damage in their childhood. It’s actually affectionate, though; it’s more often used as roasting between friends.
Parfois je me demande si t’as été bercé trop près du mur…
Sometimes, I wonder if you’ve been cradled too close to the wall…
2) Être bête comme ses pieds
Bête comme ses pieds means “dumb as his own feet.”
Feet are the furthest body part from the brain, so they’re probably very dumb.
Of course, the possessive changes. So you can say:
Je suis bête comme mes pieds (= I’m dumb as my own feet),
Tu es bête comme tes pieds (= You’re dumb as your own feet)…
Tu es encore sorti sans tes clés ? Mais t’es bête comme tes pieds !
You left without your keys once again? But you’re dumb as a rock!
3) Con comme un balai
Con comme un balai means “as stupid as a broomstick.”
“Con” means “stupid” in vulgar (but very common) French slang. It’s somehow less vulgar within this colorful French expression, though.
Michel est gentil… mais il est con comme un balai.
Michel is nice… but he is dumb as a broomstick.
Bas-de-plafond literally means “with a low ceiling.”
(Un plafond is a ceiling, un toit is a roof.)
Someone who is bas-de-plafond is not very smart, but also not very kind, or is spiteful. It’s not as endearing as the other expression.
C’est encore un discours bas-de-plafond.
It’s a dumb, low-quality speech once again.
5) Pas fute-fute
Futé is everyday, modern French for “clever, smart” (in a practical way).
So, Pas futé means “not very clever.” In familiar French, it gets shortened into: Pas fute-fute.
Elle est gentille mais elle est pas fute-fute.
She’s nice but she’s not very clever.
6) Bien brave
Brave in French does mean “brave”… sometimes. But, when we’re saying someone is brave, we’d rather use courageux instead.
Other times, brave also means “nice, helpful.”
But most times, it implies that someone is indeed helpful… but also not so smart. (This probably says something about the French mindset.)
Michel ? Ouais… Il est bien brave.
Michel? Yeah… He’s helpful, at least.
7) Bouns : fou !
Fou means crazy in French. Like in English, sometimes doing something crazy also means doing things that aren’t so smart, so expressions that mean fou or stupid tend to blend together.
For example, some colorful French expressions that mean “mildly crazy” are:
- Il n’a plus toute sa tête. = “He doesn’t have his whole head anymore.”
→ “He’s getting senile”
- Il a une araignée au plafond. = “He’s got a spider in the ceiling”
→ “He’s at least a bit crazy.”
- Il a une case en moins. = “He’s missing a case.”
→ “He’s a bit crazy.”
These French expressions are also used when someone makes a really stupid, irrational decision.
Recap: What did you learn today?
Some ways to say “stupid” in French:
- Bercé trop près du mur
- Bête comme ses pieds
- Con comme un balai
- Pas fute-fute
- Bien brave
Want to save this for later ?
→ If you enjoyed this lesson (and/or learned something new) – why not share this lesson with a francophile friend? You can talk about it afterwards! You’ll learn much more if you have social support from your friends 🙂
→ Double your Frenchness! Get my 10-day “Everyday French Crash Course” and learn more spoken French for free. Students love it! Start now and you’ll get Lesson 01 right in your inbox, straight away.
Allez, salut 🙂