Sarcler: To Weed in French

The French word for plastered drunk...

  rue du couvent france window shutters
Jean-Marc is concerned that I am writing too much about dogs, so we'll switch to drunkenness for a spell. (Photo of sign taken in Pont-Saint-Esprit. Notice the play on words: l'ivresse = drunkenness (in this case, Livresse, we have livre lushes or book boozers!)

beurré (beur-ay) adjective

    : "buttered" (plastered, sozzled, drunk)

French definition:
"qui est dans un état d’ébriété avancé" that which is in a state of advanced inebriation (by Wiktionnaire)

Share some synonyms for drunkenness here in the comments box.

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A Day in a  F r e n c h  Life... by Kristin Espinasse

(T'was a midsummer night, at a sidewalk café... when the moon and its shine caused susceptibles to sway....)

At the outdoor eatery all eyes were tied to the motley mother and mademoiselle meandering down the street... one walking straight, the other walking teet.

The teetering one stopped hither and thither, to the amusement of the crowd having dinner. There we were, in our Sunday best, watching the frowzy drowsy fille advance to the west.

...Then on to the north, south, east... at which point she ceased....

On her bobbing head she wore a pile of thread, in her arms she held emptiness, heavy as lead. I'd seen the mother and daughter hawking handmade hats at their stall, one in a long line of booths that began at the tabac and ended, here, in front of the town hall.

It looked as though one had spent the day peddling pretty hats, while the other poured down pints. Imagine that!

Having packed up their wares, they were now zigzagging out of the artisan fair... the daughter, followed by the mother-sans-druthers (it wasn't her pick to be her girl's side-kick).

Making little progress the two puttered, one brazen, the other "buttered"—both with handmade bonnets on their heads held high (the mother's)... and not so dry (the daughter's).

The cafe crowd howled, the girl's mother growled, and certain susceptibles felt sympathy for the demoiselle whose hapless heart lived itself out loud.

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French Vocabulary

l'ivresse (f) = drunkenness, intoxication, inebriation
une fille
= girl
le tabac = bar, café, or shop with a cigarette counter
la demoiselle = young lady


Have time for another story? Check out "Portrait of My Mother-in-Law" at Bonjour Paris.



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paris (im)perfect

"I am writing too much about dogs, so we'll switch to drunkenness for today's blog."...When in doubt, write about drunkenness. Very funny, Kristin!

There are plenty of words for drunkenness, but I'm afraid I don't know how to spell them all - I'd look a little tipsy if I tried.

Which, by the way, I had a little 'Franglais' mix-up today along these lines. I was thinking of the abbreviated word for "la publicite", la pub, but I was writing in English. A friend thought I was talking about a pub (a bar) rather than an ad. Dangerous, this dual vocabulary!


Hi Kristin,
I thought the word for "plastered" was bourré, as in "stuffed" ?


Is it bad that I indeed read the word "livresse" as "l'ivresse" upon first viewing the photo and before reading the post?

Beautiful sunny day in Paris! Cheers, everyone!

Bill in St. Paul

There is a woman named Kristin,
who writes poetry that brings us all in.
About dogs, J-M said 'nuff,
but we still miss the fluff
off the dogs having run, all in.

I tried to add lines about the sot,
but a poet I'm really not.
(So much more fun than doing work...)


Hi Sion, the dual vocab makes for delightful stories. Thanks for sharing.

Marcy, bourré, Jean-Marc tells us, is another synonym for drunk.

Julia, maybe it is the sun that has you reading that way :-)

Bill, thank you for the poem and for the smile.

Renee Branson

SAlut! Love it ALL! Love the animal stories! Love the dual vocab! Love the stories! Thank-you!! A day brightener!! Merci Beaucoup! Renee


Interesting, Kristin.
I found this about the two words:

http://www.expressio.fr/ "les expressions françaises décortiquées"

When speaking of inebriation, I'm fond of the word "pompette."
(not that I would know from first-hand experience.... Hic...)


Bonjour Kristin,
A little corner of Australia gets an extra ray of sunshine every day when I scroll down and see the pictures of those gorgeous and adorable dogs! Please keep their stories, and yours, going, because I'm sure there are so many of us who really look forward to our daily fix of French, and Smokey and Braise!


Why didn't my quote print!
I'll try again:
'Beurré' pour 'ivre' est un mot d'argot qui est une simple déformation de 'bourré' liée à l'image du beurre, la personne soûle étant molle ou parlant 'gras'.

renee lerner

en état d'ivresse

Herm Meyer

Salut Kristin,

I've heard the inebriated referred to as being "Four sheets to the wind" which I guess means the person is like an old sailing ship heading off into the distant unknown.

Great poem, Kristin. Here's my humble poem contribution:

He's a poet, but doesn't know it, but his feet show it....they're Longfellows!

À bientôt,

Herm in Phoenix, AZ


Merci pour le "link" au portrait de ta belle mère. C'est très bien fait! Je veux voire une photo de cette chic dame. C'est possible?
J'aime aussi le tournure "le bout du rouleau."
Je dis souvent "Je suis encore dans le jeu," mais maintenant je peut dire "Je ne suis pas encore au bout du rouleau!" ;-)


I personally like the hand movement on the nose (well, an American would think you were saying someone was a brown noser)....but in France.......when you do that with your hand, it is a wordless way of saying...........this person is very very drunk! LOL


LOL...book boozer. Now I know what I am.

Sophie Day

Jean-Marc is wrong! You cannot write enough about those 2 darlings, and this from a cat woman! I am looking forward to a book about them.

Chris, Utah

A l'ivrogne would be the person who is in the state of l'ivresse.

Rachel, Utah

Hi Kristen. There is no such thing as writing too much about dogs! I love the way you capture their expressions with your photos and put your words into their day. It makes me smile every time. Thanks.

Shannon, Alexandria, VA

You are quite talented at creating rhyming, Kristin!! Keep it up!! I enjoy reading your entries!

On a side note: have you see this website floating around France?


It's been making its way around the Internet here in America.


Hi Kristin,

I loved the portrait of your belle-mere that you linked to!

Sur la question des cheins, je suis d'accord avec Jean-Marc. Meme chose avec la poesie.

You describe the culture, your surroundings, the people and places of France so very well, capturing the whole with the smallest detail. Please stick to that, and let the dog lovers have their own blog. ;)

Judy Bell

You could never write too much about your dogs!


Kristin, this post shows your ability to tell a story with humour and empathy. There but for......


p.s. keep living your heart out loud!

Cheryl in STL

I just read your article in Bonjour Paris--how lucky you are to have such a great relationship with your belle-mère!! I also found it interesting that you tutoies her. My best French friends (for almost 40 years) always vouvoient their mothers-in-law. Maybe a regional thing? Any insights? Merci!

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

What a wonderful story. The image of the two women will stay with me all day. It is like a mini short story. Fantastique!


I, for one, look forward to A Dog's Life, and am always disappointed if there isn't a story or a picture, so please reassure Jean Marc that there are many animal lovers!

Elaine C, Virginia

Maybe Jean-Marc doesn't understand how popular Smokey-R-Dokey and Braise are. We LOVE their stories.
Please continue their adventures!


Hi Kristin,

Tell Jean-Marc there is no such a thing as too much dogs and puppies. I love the tales. And love the human tales too. Finally, I learn what tabac means, I had heard it in songs and did not quite make sense, I suppose I could have looked it up.

Merci and joyeux Mercredi,



I LOVE the dog stories. There's room for all your stories, and theirs too. If the non dog lovers don't want to hear about dogs, they can skip that part. But please don't take them out or cut them back. Oui, oui to Smokey R. Dokey and Braise!

Arnold Hogarth

What a lovely poem - very poignant, makes me wonder about those women's circumstances - Perfect. You left me wondering. Kind of like when I read (a long time ago) Jacques Prevert's dejeuner du matin, I still wonder about that woman's circumstances. Your poem has, I think,the same appeal. Well done.


Ive always wanted to know how to say that.. comment dit-on "hes sleeping off a hangover?" i feel like i've heard that one in movies before.

thanks for all the wonderful new words! nice article in B.P as well.

joie  carmel,ca

I like the connotation that beurre seems to impart. What a nice way to describe a drunk! Pompette is rather cute also...but that looks like the female gender. Is it pompet for the male? Also, going to the last blog....how on earth did your garden go from covered with snow to blooming flowers in such a short time?

Mary Deignan

I don't know about "sozzled"...perhaps that's British English. How about adding sloshed or smashed to American English equivalents?

Marianne Rankin

I think I've heard the word "paf," which means "high," in the sense of "starting to feel the effects of alcohol, but not actually drunk." I hope there aren't too many truly drunk people in France, or anywhere.

I read with interest the post about your mother-in-law. Just curious - is this an older article? I thought you had been married longer than 15 years. Yes, please post a photo of her sometime, if she is willing. And a picture of the whole family.

Julian Baird

"Drunk" = "Ivre", as in the poem Le "Bateau Ivre".


Fun post, vivid and touching, too, but my heart sank not to see a photo or two of Braise et Fils -- am addicted to your furry duo and always share their doings with others who thus are introduced to your blog in the warmest possible way. Please oh please include the canine kids routinely or indeed create an adjunct blog just for them. Me, I love the combo here. Non dog-fanciers (surely very few) can skip the bits about Smokey and Braise easily enough.

Jules Greer

Kristi Darling - always your words are so enchanting, I'm just starting to realize that you are truly a poet, one filled with sunshine.



Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Fabulous story! Shared with such wit, heart and charm! Smiles here now...I love it all!


It's nice to change things up now and again isn't it?!
I enjoyed your rhyme and was delighted to learn, the new to me term of *book boozer* I can often teeter into that state :)


Hi Kristin,
I enjoyed your story today and also "Portrait of My Mother-in-Law". When we were living in Germany, our German teacher taught us "Ich bin blau". Slang for "I am drunk."

Candy in SW KS

Please do not fail to regale us with tales of the tails! Bill inspired me to make a rhyme, teehee! Je (coeur) all of your stories - toutes!! And I learned that I'm a "book boozer" to boot!! Thank you for your choice of phrases which brings smiles to all our faces :) And I'm not "snockered". (hmmm - no rhyme for that one!)

Lois Bachrach

How about....je me suis plus eponge (accent over the first e)????

Leslie in Massachusetts

Your dogs have many fans, c'est evident, so I think you must keep on sharing their cuteness. Me, I'm not such a dog fan, although yours are very pretty, I admit. Anyone who doesn't love hearing about them can just skip the dog news, since there is much more to enjoy. in your posts, so many wonderul nuggets of information about the French language, customs, villages, etc., and I love your writer's voice and the stories about your family, which does includea couple of furry members.


And "Je suis casse" (accent over the e).....


J'ai ecoute' "assomme'".

Anne Chase

Quand J'ai habité en Guinée, j'ai entendu quelq'un dit: Je suis cuit, je suis bis - cuit! (biscuit). C'était très amusant.



I loved your poème. Your kindness and compassion shine through your words; and in this case, your words are far more eloquent than a photograph of these tragic ladies...

It reminds me of the song "Gueule de bois", penned and sung by a tragic figure with a sad name: Gribouille (née Marie-France Gaîté, 1941-1968). Her short life is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gribouille
The lyrics are here:
Some of her songs are on youtube, but not this one. She has a beautiful voice and a magical way with words even if all her songs are "sad".

Your dog and family stories and insights are a great antidote to the more "sobering" (pun intended) stories such as today's.

Power to you and to your pen as well as you appareil-photo.

In Brisbane today: Sunny 25Celsius...That's autumn!

Max Rosan

Si j'étais un soulard, et si j'avais un verre dans le nez, je serais bourré, ou bien rond comme une bille :-P


Hi Kristin,
It's not easy to describe such a scene!The choice and accuracy of details, the slight touches and vivid images, the assonance and consonance flowing with ease, make it a little masterpiece. I find impossible to compare its 'level' with cuty little doggy stories, as charming or amusing as they may be... I would say in all honesty and respect that “une petite récréation avec les toutous” in small and balanced doses, is surely entertaining and appreciated by everybody - but I do realize some would prefer to have them daily and I feel I have no say regarding the fact of pleasing the audience.

After reading the text for the second time, I then realised how spoiled we were. Mille mercis, Kristin (and merci aussi to "Bonjour Paris") for this high quality piece of writing! “La belle-mère française” is sketched with ingenuity and friendliness, the moments shared between “belle-mère et belle-fille” are full of charm and delicate nuances - as for the shoes..... they are so much more than an old pair of shoes! Wonderful!


Note to Jean-Marc--There is no such thing as too many dog stories!

Robert Faux

On est sou comme un polonais. Two Polish friends confirmed the accuracy of this French expression.


Renee and friends: thanks for the lovely enthusiasm!

Marcy & Co, and merci for the excellent synonymes (pompette! Anne's "cuit" et "bis": biscuit!) and to all who shared words related to snockered!(Or how about Ben Franklin's "nimptopsical" listen in his "Drinker's Dictionary" (published in 1736).

Marianne: what a fun word "paf" is! And yes, the story was published some time ago and slightly re-written.

Mom, Newforest, and Jacq, your words are a gift. Merci beaucoup. Jacq: thank you for sharing Gribouille (Marie-France Gaîté) with us.


For those interested in words, here is a selection of them, “par degré d'ivresse”.

** légèrement ivre
-> (familiar) être éméché, être pompette = to be tipsy

** ivre / soûl(e)
-> (familiar) être paf, être rond = to be drunk
-> (fam) avoir un petit verre dans le nez = to have one (drink) too many

** complètement ivre
-> (familiar/slang) prendre une cuite / se cuiter = to get plastered / pissed....
-> (familiar/slang) être beurré / bourré / plein / complètement cuit = to be plastered, / pissed / sozzled / sloshed

** être ivre mort = to be dead/blind drunk

Que se passe-t-il le lendemain? (What happens on the day after?)
-> celui qui a bu outre mesure a -> “la gueule-de-bois” (= 'a hangover')

PS - I should have mentionned that when you are getting into the state of drunkeness, the verbs are:
** s'enivrer (pronounce sen-ni-vré) and more commonly: se soûler = to get drunk

Kristin, I'd like to add a few words to say the photos did make me smile. What a subtle "introduction humoristique” to the subject! I was amused to find “livresse” -> Oh! the power of a little apostrophe! To crown it all, "livresse" (ex-fruit &veg shop) is leading to ... “la Rue du couvent” (!), just round the corner.

As for the story, I know that yesterday, I felt the impact of “le fond” but was fascinated by the quality of “la forme” - hence my first comment. After re-reading the story once again today, I appreciated “le fond” even more than yesterday. I see no false pity, no melodrama, no judgement or accusation and certainly no mockery... The real drama is based on “un malaise grinçant”. Under the cover of the young lady's unbalanced body, your last words slightly point at her “coeur bafoué" - this is how, "au-delà des apparences et de la conduite" (beyond appareances and behaviour), your own good heart sees her "coeur meurtri" (broken heart) leading to her intoxicating habits.
For me, your priceless description of “la jeune femme dans un état d’ébriété avancé ” & her growling mother, worked more strongly that any photo and video of the scene.

A very final point on the 4 cardinal points. Your eyes follow the girl advancing to the west, then going on to the north, south, east... at which point she ceased... So, here she went, "titubant" (= staggering) from one cardinal point to the next... and stopped. I couldn't help thinking of the French expression: "perdre la boussole" ("perdre" = to lose and "la boussole" = compass) which means: to go round the bends, to go nuts.


I like "la gueule de bois!" How about the expressions "gris" or "noir" for "drunk." I'm trying to remember the funny line from "Le mariage de Figaro." About Antonio, Figaro says something like "il est complètement gris" and Antonio responds with something like "Ce n'est qu'un petit reste d'hier." My students like that.


Hi Leslie,
The list above was only a selection. I think "être noir" = to be drunk (not sure it's used a lot)
Yes, we could add "être gris" in the first section, as it means = to be tipsy.
In this context, you have the verb "griser".
"Le vin m'a grisé" = the wine has gone to my head...

Ah!.... "gueule de bois" today, (mal à la tête et langue pâteuse after the excess of alcohol...) and in the last FWAD, the flowers in the pot next to Braise were des "gueules-de-loup" ...
Well, your students will have an interesting vocab list at their disposal!

Bonne journée!


You tell Jean Marc to get his own blog and leave yours alone, Kristin (just kidding, Jean Marc - you're too cute to scold). I love your dog stories and would miss them terribly if you stopped.

Love the tipsy hatter story, too. Milles bisses (my French sucks worse than a badger baby).


Jules Greer


I spent most of last night tossing and turning on my pellows kicking myself for not taking the time to give Kristi the praise she deserved for this remarkable (sp?) dare I say BRILLANT piece of prose. I too thought how spoiled I had become to not take the time to properly thank Kristi for all the time and effort she took to polish this 'song from her heart'. The realization that this high caliber of prose comes from Kristi leaves me completly humbled by her beauty. Thank you Newforest for helping me see - you have proven again that you are the light that leads us on here at "Le Coin Commentaries. I bless the day you came into
Kristi's life, none of us have been the same since you found us.




Italian has a wonderful word for the sway of a drunken sailor (or hat-selling signorina): barcollare--to move back and forth like a boat.


Please, tell Jean=Marc that Smokey and Braise keep me coming back to your blog as much or more than the rest! Thank you for your writing and your efforts, but please do not leave out the dogs!


J'aime Smokey & Braise!!!

Linda Bugg

Sorry Jean-Marc, but you can never have too many stories about dogs. They are the only ones I forward to my friends who aren't francophiles.

-Linda from Tucson


Beurré? Nice one--thanks!

Ahulani McAdam

Beautiful, Sonia!

a student

Does anybody know of any great books where the expression, "je suis casse" is used?
My french teacher (from Canada) insists it is not even a slang expression.. except for meaning broke. I know it can be used to refer to having a broken heart.. or being hung over.. there must be some well known writer that has used this phrase in a book somewhere...


Beurré comme un petit Lû
(buttered like a little Bretagne biscuit)
Il en a jeté un de trôp derrière la cravate
(he threw one too many behind the tie)
Il marche a côté de ses pompes
(he is walking beside his shoes)
It marche très loin de ses godasses
(he is walking a long way from his shoes)

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