The caption "Le Pape a Paris: Les Français aussi cons que les nègres" from Charlie Hebdo's cover of issue n°498 (24 mai 1980),

cover of issue n°498 (24 mai 1980)

allegedly translates as follows:

The Pope in Paris: The French are as stupid as n*gg*rs.

The English edition of Wiktionary describes “nègre” as equivalent to “negro”, rather than the n word, and doesn't warn about it as being offensive.

How racist is the word? Is it really on par with the n word in English?

  • 5
    What do you mean about "nggrs, I need to replace * with 'e' to find the complete word ? Why don't write the entire words ?
    – IndianJo
    Jan 20, 2015 at 9:13
  • This is (has become) really racist although black people use it to call themselves... it was already considered racist back in 1980 so this quote was deliberately provoking (implying the pope being racist from where I see it...)
    – Laurent S.
    Jan 20, 2015 at 10:41
  • 9
    Yes, this whole 'avoid-to-write-the-word' hypocrisy is a great way to solve all racism problems. Everyone knows that if one just doesn't use the word, he can't be racist. if he does, he automatically is. Such a simple world. Jan 20, 2015 at 11:49
  • 4
    Many people seem to misunderstand this usage of the colon. On this cover “Les Français aussi cons que les nègres” is not meant to be a quote from the Pope. “Le Pape à Paris” is just a context introducer. Jan 20, 2015 at 14:11
  • 1
    By the way, "une tête de nègre" is the french expression for Marshmallow teacake. Jan 21, 2015 at 23:07

2 Answers 2


Nègre was a popular word during the colonial empires time to name African indigenous black people.

Nowadays, it is extremely outdated (unlike the N word). In the very rare cases it is still used, it is usually deliberately offensive unless used by black people themselves, especially in in the Négritude movement (Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor).

It was used without being offensive in arts (Art Nègre, now usually called Arts traditionnels africains) and shouldn't either be taken as offensive in the cover you cite being offbeat / satirical humour.

Nègre was also used to name a ghostwriter.


Nègre est un substantif masculin (négresse au féminin) et un adjectif, désignant les Noirs.

En français, le substantif a pris avec le temps une connotation péjorative et raciste

"Nègre" is a masculine noun ("négresse" to female) and an adjective, designating blacks people.

In French, the noun has taken over time pejorative and racist connotation.

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