How to Say Stupid in French (7 French Expressions)

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.

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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.

For example:
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)…

For example:
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!

Bête comme chou (= “dumb as cabbage”) doesn’t mean “stupid,” but “very simple and easy task.” You can find more French expressions with “cabbage” !

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.

For example:
Michel est gentil… mais il est con comme un balai.
Michel is nice… but he is dumb as a broomstick.

4) Bas-de-plafond

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.

For example:
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.

For example:
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.)

For example:
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
  • Bas-de-plafond
  • Pas fute-fute
  • Bien brave

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Allez, salut 🙂

Géraldine

Join the conversation!

  • I live in the United States. At this time, there are NOT ENOUGH expressions to use for our leadership…thank you for these! I will use them liberally.

  • Salut Geraldine

    Je regarde une de ta vieille leçons alors que je suis coincé dans les portes.

    Dans le nord de l’Angleterre, il y a l’expression «as daft as a brush’» qui est similaire à la version balai. C’est une insulte assez douce.

    Si je peux corriger votre prononciation c’est CRAY-DUL pas CRAD-UL

    Stay well

    Stuart in Bradford (proche de Leeds)

  • Aux Etats Unis on aussi dit “a brick short of a load”. On quelquefois peut dire “dumb as a stump”. Une autre expression informale pour fou est “to have a screw loose”. Par example “he has a screw loose.”

  • On Australie, on dit aussi “Elle a des kangourous en liberte dans l’enclos au sommet.”(?) = “She has kangaroos loose in the top paddock.”

  • Bonjour Géraldine. En Irlande on dit « Sa tête est aussi épaisse comme deux planches courtes « .

    Continuez le bon travail,
    Christopher.

  • En Irlande, on peut dire “Michel n’est pas le couteau le plus tranchant dans le tiroir”. Le mot “tranchant” peut signifier “intelligent”.

  • Bonour Geraldine. En anglais on a quelque chose de similaire avec ‘etre bercé trop pres du mur’. C’est ‘to be dropped on one’s head as a baby’. Cela fait referance á l’enfance aussi et c’est une bonne traduction.

    He must have been dropped on his head as a baby.

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