Word of the Week: ‘une grosse légume’

This week, we’re looking at one of my favourite French expressions: ‘une grosse légume’. 

Word of the Week:

‘Grosse légume’. 

How to pronounce it:

Grow-ss lay-goom. 

What it means in English:

Although it literally translates as ‘large vegetable’, it’s a French slang term that’s used to describe someone who’s very powerful or influential, a bit like ‘big cheese’ or ‘bigwig’ in English. 

Gru from ‘Despicable Me’: ‘grosse légume’ extraordinaire

Where does it come from?

According to the website Expressions Françaises, ‘une grosse légume’ originated in the middle of the nineteenth century. This was when the word ‘légume’ was feminine rather than masculine, as it is is today. 

At the time, it was a slang term for a senior army officer. 

President Trump, America’s current ‘grosse légume’

How to use it in a sentence:

‘M. Burns est une grosse légume.’ 

English translation:

‘Mr. Burns (from The Simpsons) is a big cheese.’  

Similar words:

Un gros bonnet = A big cheese (literally: a big hat). 

Un gros poisson = A bigwig (literally: a big fish). 

Une huile = A V.I.P./a ‘big cheese’ (literally: an oil). 

And now over to France’s big cheese-in-residence, Emmanuel Macron!

How about you? What are your favourite French words? 
For more Words of the Week, head over to the Language section of my blog here


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