Kids can be cute but don’t always have filters and can say unexpected things when they feel hurt, frustrated, angry, or surprised.
🤬Like most kids, children in France have special expressions and words they like to throw around when they need to express feelings or ideas without using harsh or offensive language — which you don’t usually find in French classroom books. Nevertheless, they exist and are handy to know, especially if you’re raising a child in France.
Let’s explore some of these funny, kid-friendly French insults and expressions that kids as young as three love using at home and on the playground as substitutes for juicier, offensive French terms. Many of which adults also use.
If you’re learning French, knowing how to express yourself will help avoid embarrassing mistakes. For example, if you want to say, “That sucks,” don’t say “ça suce,” which means to suck sexually, as in fellatio.
French minced oaths: Polite French euphemisms parents & kids use to replace bad words
A minced oath is a type of euphemism that uses substitute words or phrases to replace offensive or inappropriate language. This makes speech more socially acceptable and polite, avoiding harsh expressions.
One interesting thing about minced oaths is that they often resemble the original offensive words, sometimes even sounding humorous or nonsensical. As a result, people often use minced oaths when frustrated, angry, or surprised to avoid explicit language.
You already know quite a few in English, such as the following:
- Gosh! → God
- Oh shoot → Oh Shit
- Darn!→ Damn
- Dang it!→ Damn it
- Holy moly→ Holy Shit
- Balderdash→ Bull shit
- Shut the front door → Shut the “F” up
- Fudge!→ “F” word
Adults and parents in France also use minced oaths, especially in front of children. Kids then pick up these milder expressions from adults or their friends and use them in various situations to express their emotions without using strong swear words or insults. The choice of euphemism may vary depending on the child’s age and exposure to different expressions.
French minced oaths that replace two common French bad words
“Putain” and “Merde” are hands down the two most commonly used bad words in France.
- Merde means Shit
- Putain is a French cuss word that’s been around since the 11th century. It’s from the Latin word “putidus,” meaning “rotten” or “stinking.” It’s the equivalent of saying the “F-bomb” in English. Spanish and Portuguese have a related term, “puta.”
Although these are considered bad words in French, they don’t carry the same level of offence as their English counterparts do in English-speaking countries.t
There are a lot of minced oaths used in France, and French-speaking countries use a substitute for these two common French swear words and other blasphemous words. You might already be familiar with a few.:
For instance, does Sacrebleu, or Sacré bleu, sound familiar?
This is what many non-native French speakers think French people go around saying, but in reality, this is an outdated minced oath that replaces an old French swear word, Sacré Dieu, “holy God.” It’s like saying “dagnabit” or “what in tarnation.”
Another example of an out-of-date French minced oath is “Parbleu,” which means good heavens” or “my goodness. You’re more likely to come across them in older texts or movies.
Now, let’s explore some contemporary French minced oaths used in various situations by both adults and children — all of which can roughly mean “darn,” “dang it,” “oops,” “shoot,” or even “wow,” depending on the context.
1) MINCE! (instead of merde)
Mince = Literally means thin.
“Ah, Mince!” has been around for a long time. It’s a French slang word used to express disappointment or dissatisfaction to replace the French bad word “merde” (Shit.)
Saying “Mince” instead of “Merde” is an easy transition since they both start with the letter “M.”
Normally, when you say “Mince,” you say it by adding “Ah” before the word “Mince,” like oh shoot!
- Ahhh Mince! j’ai raté le tram.
- Oh, Shoot, I missed the tram!
2) PUNAISE! (instead of putain)
Punaise = thumbtack
Punaise in French has two meanings. It’s a thumbtack/pushpin, but it can also be a bed bug (punaise de lit).
Children and adults use this term as an alternative to the more vulgar French swear word “Putain.” Remember, “Putain” is like saying the “F” word in English.
The origins of this word are unclear. Some say it’s from the French provençal language word “puteo” (to stink). Others think it’s just a made-up word that sounds like the word it’s trying to replace. Either way, it’s quite popular in France for preschoolers and adults.
- Oh punaise, je n’ai plus de beurre pour mon gateau.
- Oh shoot, I don’t have any butter for my cake
3) PURÉE (instead of putain)
Purée = mash or puree. As in mashed potatoes (purée de pomme de terre).
The word purée is also used as an alternative to the offensive French swear word “Putain.”
According to the Dictionnaire Historique de la Langue Française, purée” has been used as an expression of emotion since 1895 and could be a shortened form of an older expression “être dans la purée,” (to be in the purree (or mash), to describe being in a predicament.
- Oh purée, je n’ai pas fait mes devoirs!
- Oh boy, I didn’t do my homework!
This is an old, rarely used word, but I included it on this list because it’s a funny word to show surprise. It’s the equivalent of saying something old-fashioned like “gee willickers” or “gadzooks.”
In a roundabout way, “Saperlipomette” is the diminutive form of “Saprisiti,” a minced oath my 90-year-old aunt loves to say in Quebec used to replace the blasphemous term “sacristi” by replacing the letter “C” with a “P.” Sacristi refers to someone responsible for the upkeep of a church’s sacred objects and clothes.
- “Saperlipopette, elle ne sais pas comment conduire.”
- Gee Willickers, she doesn’t know how to drive.
French preschool insults containing Taboo Body Parts, body Fluids, and excrement
In general, any type of body secretion, bad odour, and childish words for private parts are fun things to say and use as insults.
*Some of the words and expressions on this list are said by adults, too. Others are strictly things kids say.
1) Caca Boudin = Caca Sausage / Poo poo sausage
“Caca Boudin,” or Caca sausage, is usually the first kid-friendly bad word substitute used in France by children as young as 2 or 3 years old.
- “Caca”= Caca
- “Boudin” =Blood sausage, usually made with pork (French charcuterie). Boudin is also a shape, so it can also refer to other types of sausages, such as “boudin au poulet” (chicken sausage,) and objects that have a long cylindrical shape, like a cable sleeve organizer, which is called a “boudin de câbles,” (cable sausage.)
Caca isn’t a bad word in French, and caca boudin isn’t a bad word, either. It’s just one of many words that children love to say whenever they can because it has the word “caca” in it.
The expression is very useful and can be used as an adjective and sometimes as a noun.
- What do you want to eat? “Caca Boudin!”
- What do you think of the book? It’s a “caca boudin!“
- No j’en veux pas, espece de caca boudin!
- No I don’t want to, you piece of “caca boudin!
The expression has only existed since the 1970s, but it’s infiltrated the French language and is seriously prolific. If you have a baby in France, it’s only a matter of time before they end up saying “caca boudin.” Some adults, usually parents, even use it: guilty as charged.
There are even children’s songs and books with caca boudin as the star of the show.
French children's book (2-5 years old). The book begins with this phrase: Once upon a time, there was a little rabbit who repeatedly said "caca boudin," from evening to morning! Until he meets a wolf...
Il était une fois un petit lapin qui répétait « caca boudin » du soir au matin ! Jusqu’à ce qu’il rencontre un loup…
The Caca boudin oh song
Here’s a song that is surprisingly catchy called caca boudin oh.
2) CROTTE = Doo Doo, Poop, Dung
Crotte, is another word French kids get a kick out of saying and using as an insult.
- Crotte de nez = boogers
- crotte de chien = dog poop
3) PROUT = Fart
A popular way for little French kids to insult one another is to call someone a Fart, similar to how English-speaking children might call someone a “fart head.”
prout-prout is the onomatopoeia for the sound a fart makes.
- T’es qu’un prout qui sent des pieds. = your a fart that smells like feet
- T’es un caca prout = You’re a caca fart
4) PIPI = Peepee, or wee-wee
- T’est un Pipi–Caca–Prout de fesses
- You’re a peepee, caca fart butt.
Caca means the same thing in French as it does in English, and kids love to use it in various ways to insult one another.
- T’es un caca qui pue du derrière. = You’re a caca whose behind stinks.
- Espèce de caca ! = You piece of caca!
6) GROS CACA = Big Poop
- Non, c’est toi le gros caca. = Noooo, you’re the big caca!
- T’est un gros caca! = Youre a big caca!
7) ZIZI = Weener or Wee-wee
Zizi is a cute term of endearment that’s widely used and refers to the word penis. Children love to insult one another, calling each other wee-wees.
- Toi, t’est une tête de zizi = You’re weener head
OTHER FRENCH KID INSULTS
Tête de linotte = Bird Brain, scatterbrain
|\Tet – Duh – Lee – Nut\|
The French expression “Tête de linotte,” which translates to “Linnet head,” is a playful way to call someone an airhead or scatterbrain, but it can also be used to insult the intelligence of someone, similar to the English expression bird brain.
A linnet is a small bird known for forgetting where its hidden its food or nesting materials.
GROS PÉRPÈRE = Big Grandpa
Pérpère is a tender French term of endearment that children call their grandfather, like gramps. Adults can use it as a term of endearment for animals and babies to imply they are cute and calm like a grandfather. Or it can be used pejoratively to mean someone is an old-timer.
When kids use it, they add the word “gros,” which means big or fat, and it magically turns into an insult. But it doesn’t imply old; it implies that a person is tubby or a fat slob.
- T’es un gros pépère.
- You’re a big fat slob.
- Gros pépère qui pue du derrière.
- Fat slob whose behind stinks
GROSSE PATATE POURRIE = Big fat rotten potato
If you want to get under the skin of another kid on the playground and can’t think of anything, just call them a big, fat, rotten potato.
- T’es une grosse patate pourrie.
- You’re a big fat rotten potato.
Espèce de cornichon or Espèce de patate = piece of chornichon or pice of potato
Instead of calling someone a piece of poo, call them a piece of potato or a piece of cornichon. I’ve also heard the expression you piece of spinach, which is really cute.
- Espèce de cornichon = /Eh-spess-duh-Korn-knee-Shown/
- Espèce de patate = /Eh-spess-duh-pah-tat/
- Espèce d’épinard = /Eh-spess-day-pee-nar/
|Listen to all three|
If you want to emphasize the insult further, you can add “gros” (big) – “gros cornichon” or “grosse patate,” or conversely, “petit” (small) – “petit cornichon” or “petite patate.”
SAC À PUCES = FleaBag
Calling someone a fleabag in French has the same connotation as it does in English — filthy, dirty, disgusting, etc.
- Degage, sac à puces
- Get out, you fleabag. Or move you fleabag.
CAMEMBERT = Beep Beep Camembert
Pouêt-pouêt is not a real word. It’s a French onomatopoeia for Honk-honk or beep-beep, and
This childish schoolyard burn is a not-so-subtle way to tell someone, “Shut up, I told you so, neener neener neener.”
In English, it has the same effect as the sing-song way kids say, “Neener neener neener neeeeener!” or “Ha ha ha ha hahaaa! ”
This insult is usually accompanied by a very specific hand gesture, which is the same hand gesture used when saying “honk honk” in French.
You hold your hand in front of you and touch your thumbs and forefingers together as if gently squeezing
The origins of this childish insult aren’t clear, but it may be a shorted form of an older expression, “Ferme ta Boite à
- Ferme ta boîte à camemembert
See the next section for an explanation.
FERME TA BOÎTE (Shut your box)
“Ferme ta boîte” is extremely popular in Quebec, and it’s what my friends and I would say if we wanted to be extremely rude to someone and tell them to shut up without using the more vulgar “Ferme ta gueule!”
It may be a shortened version of “Ferme ta boîte à
C’est celui qui dit qui y est
The ultimate comeback to an insult is saying, “cest celui qui dit qui y est,” which literally means “he who says it, is it.” Idiomatically, it’s like saying, “I know you are, but what am I?”
|/say suh-loo-we key dee key ee yay/|
Oh darn, it’s time to say goodbye.
I hope you had a good laugh at discovering these cute French minced oaths and socially acceptable kid insults.
Here’s a cute video (in French) of kids getting tricked into admitting all the naughty, bad French words they say. And no, they use the real French bad words, not these cute ones on this list.