How offensive is the French word "femmelette" considered to be? I know it's used to describe a weak or overly sensitive male, so I assume it's mostly used to offend males, but is it considered to be offensive to females, too?

I know it technically translates to "a weak woman," so would it be considered kind of stupid for a female to use that word? Is it like an equivalent to the English word "pussy"? I hear females use that word to describe males or females all of the time, and I've never heard anyone say it was stupid for a female to say that even though it's a word that's generally referred to females.

Thanks in advance.

2 Answers 2


It’s vulgar, and yes the english word to translate it could be « pussy »

Per the description; it’s tagged for a men acting like a women

Fig. Homme qui a des manières féminines. C'est une vraie > femmelette, comment supportera-t-il les fatigues de la > guerre s'il est appelé à l'armée ?

In Canadian French it’s not much used. « Feluette » is more used or even « tapette » which is more vulgar.

  • Feluette is a derivate word from fluet.

The urban dictionnary description:

feluette similar to "moumoune", meaning wuss or weakling. Force un peu, maudite feluette!

  • tapette is more vulgar, as the primary meaning is a vulgar word that mean a homosexual, but it can be used to taunt someone else like feluette or femmelette.

In a conversation these words can be used for taunting (« narguer »), so the usage meaning can vary on the situation, but it’s still vulgar in any case.

  • 1
    From the perspective of a European French native speaker: tapette and femmelette are also very common here, but not "feluette". You can also find a less offensive word chochotte (not sure if it is used in Canadian French).
    – Greg
    Sep 13, 2019 at 2:47
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    Chochotte qualifies someone (more often a boy, even small children) who acts effeminate and avoids or refuses to do certain "manly" things. It is often used with the phrase faire sa chochotte (=to act like a sissy). Ex: "arrête de faire ta chochotte et viens te baigner, l'eau n'est pas trop froide !" I'd rate it as less offensive than femmelette.
    – Greg
    Sep 13, 2019 at 4:06
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    It's not “men acting like a women”, it's meant acting like a stereotypical woman who is weak because she's a woman. It's inherently sexist against women. Sep 13, 2019 at 6:46
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    @TeleportingGoat There are not many schools you'd be in trouble for saying merde and not many in the south of France for saying putain. But nowadays when teachers are asked to be particularly careful about all sexist discrimination femelette would never go unnoticed, an if it did then the teacher would be the one who could get in trouble.
    – None
    Sep 13, 2019 at 10:41
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    @Gilles It's sexist, but it mean effiminé too, which mean something beyond the fact that a women can be weak.
    – yagmoth555
    Sep 13, 2019 at 12:58

Femmelette is offensive because it's an insult in two parts. The -lette suffix is a diminutive, saying that the person is less than a femme. And it builds on femme (i.e. “woman”), saying that the person is inferior for being a woman.

If femmelette was the feminine version of *hommelet, it would merely be an insult. But *hommelet* doesn't exist. Using femmelette is intrinsically sexist.

(My perspective is from France. Some dialects may use the word more or less, but the offensiveness is cross-dialectal.)

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    I don't want to raise any controversy here: this answer is right. But a woman that looks or behave like a man is sometimes referred to as a “fomme” (or perhaps “fhomme”?) in Quebec. This hasn't made it to any dictionary I know, it is uncommon even in Quebec, but would it surf a wave at some point in the future, I believe it could be a legitimate masculine version of “femmelette”, even though it's pointing to a different sexist stereotype (roughness of men instead of weakness of women). Sep 13, 2019 at 12:26
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    It is definitely sexist in the sense that it infers acting like a (weak) woman is a bad thing, to be ashamed of, but interpreting it as "a woman being weak for being a woman" is an extra step. In my opinion there is no meaning of causality in any of the "-lette" words. (noisette, maisonette, pincette, etc)
    – Pepper
    Sep 13, 2019 at 14:53
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    Hommasse is an adjective, not a noun, yet it is offensive and used to described a woman who acts or looks like a man. And hommelet would sound like either homme laid or omelette ! Sep 13, 2019 at 15:01
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    @Montéedelait I was curious about it and fomme and hemme can be found in the wiktionnaire, no definitions. Urban dictionary has fomme but the definition given doesn't match yours. Wiktionnaire gives a quotation form a Quebec women's studies journal. And the terms were apparently used by the French writer Françoise Dorin in 2007, so they must be known in some circles this side of the Pond.
    – None
    Sep 13, 2019 at 15:09
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    @Laure Une autre définition informelle, plus près de celle que j’ai fournie, datant de 2006. Sep 13, 2019 at 16:37

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