Sadly, I am an extremely picky eater, so it's good for me to know how to tell people this to explain my selectivity with restaurants and meals.

But I'm a bit confused by the phrase "faire la fine bouche," because I'm not familiar with the word fine in French.

What does fine mean in this expression? I couldn't find any definition that made sense-- Wiktionnaire lists it as a typography term and secondarily as something to do with cognac.

  • 1
    Je ne pourrais pas donner une meilleure explication: expressio.fr/expressions/faire-la-fine-bouche.php
    – None
    Apr 16, 2016 at 8:29
  • L'expression anglaise est be fussy reverso.net/…
    – Personne
    Apr 16, 2016 at 9:21
  • @cl-r Aerovistae sait ce que ça veut dire. Il le dit "I am an extremely picky eater" (qui veut dire justement qu'il fait la fine bouche - mieux que fussy quand on parle de nourriture.). Il veut juste comprendre pourquoi on dit « fine » bouche.
    – None
    Apr 16, 2016 at 12:48
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    Perhaps you could consider avoiding any confusion associated with using “fine/fin” in the context of food (where you might come across as [pompously] declaring that you have a “palais fin/délicat”//sophisticated/discerning palate) by more humbly attributing your pickiness to your overall “difficult nature” with “Je suis difficile” (untrue, I’m sure, but better, imo, to sound a bit humble than risk insulting the chef).
    – Papa Poule
    Apr 16, 2016 at 16:30

3 Answers 3


"Fine bouche" means "thin mouth" (the prononciation is close in french and in english, by the way). It was originally "petite bouche" ("small mouth"). If you're a gourmet, you're more likely to eat your food little by little, not opening your mouth too wide and less likely to swallow big chunk without masticating. Thus the expression.

Like Papa Poule said in the comment, you should be careful with this expression : it imply that what was served was not good enough for you. The chef or host could ressent you. You could use the litteral translation for "I'm a picky-eater" ("Je suis un mangeur exigeant/difficile/pointilleux") for added politeness.

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    "Thin" is pronounced like the French fine only when you have a French accent ;-)
    – jlliagre
    Apr 16, 2016 at 21:44
  • 1
    Hmm, touché.. Now everyone know that I have a fick french accent. ;) I edited the answer !
    – Jylo
    Apr 17, 2016 at 9:22
  • I didn't realize it was an adjective because I didn't recognize it and it was before the noun. Used to only seeing a few select adjective before the noun; this isn't one of them. Apr 18, 2016 at 20:30

Fine bouche is literally meaning: Fine mouth or Delicate mouth. It's an expression that relates to the mouth you use to eat and the fact that people have to be delicate in their food choice: you are a picky eater, hence not everything will go through this mouth. You have this the expression like this.

  • 2
    More "thin mouth" than "fine mouth".
    – jlliagre
    Apr 16, 2016 at 16:56
  • Well thin means mince to be exact in the sense of not big
    – cram2208
    Apr 16, 2016 at 19:50

Fine in this case is linked to the quality of the meal you are expecting. You can find epiceries fines or boucherie fine still in some places. There, you'll find high quality or rare products.

Faire la fine bouche

Means been difficult and needing special treatment and better meals

Avoir un palais fin

Means having good and precise taste.

It's also linked to un travail fin which means that it's a work of high quality and high precision.

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