How can one convey funnily enough the following anecdote?

What do you call a bear with no teeth? A gummy bear.

For instance,

Comment appelle-t-on un ours sans dents ? Un funny bear.

does it sound ok?

  • 2
    ["Can can one convey "funnily enough"? It is a pun or play on words. It is not an anecdote. You might want to edit your question.] Can you explain your idea that funny bear would work in French?
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


"Funny bear" is meaningless in French.

If you need to keep the same question, here is my best suggestion:

Comment on appelle un ours sans dents ?
Un bisounours

Bisounours is the French name for "Care Bears". It is built from bisous (kisses) and ours (bear). The idea is that a toothless bear doesn't bite so would kiss.

The word bisounours is commonly used in the expression un monde de bisounours that describes a imaginary word where everyone is very sweet, good-natured, far from the real one...

It happens that bisounours clashes with a slang Québécois word so that would be un calinours (same idea: câlins means cuddles) in Québec.


No, that means nothing in French; first, "funny bear" is nothing in French, except the name of a character in a song; it is not found in any dictionary, not the Wiktionnaire, not even the reverso; the translation of "gummy bear" is "ours en guimauve" ou encore "gummy bear" (ref;); secondly, "deprived of teeth" does not invariably mean "funny". Countless people are deprived of natural teeth, and there is nothing funny about that. You must find a quirk of language that will make the characterization humorous.

Gummy bear Gummy bears (German: Gummibär) are small, fruit gum candies, similar to a jelly baby in some English-speaking countries. The candy is roughly 2 cm (0.8 in) long and shaped in the form of a bear. The gummy bear is one of many gummies, popular gelatin-based candies sold in a variety of shapes and colors.

The humorous aspect derives from the ambiguity beween "gummy, adj." as in "gummy smile" (showing gums)) and "gummy, n." as in "melon gummies" (a small coloured sweet); rather, it derives from the inescapable identification (through the bias of the ambiguity) of the real bear to a mere piece of jelly, although, ideally bear-shaped. In countless translations of this sort you can't come up with anything that'll be as perfect as the original; only rarely extremely rarely will the target language comprise corresponding elements in the same context; as well, only rarely will there be a transposition to another context to permit a comparable pun.

Here is a try, but you will notice that there is no quirk of language, merely a transposition from the world of animals to that of toys, without preservation of the essential point that carries the gist of the metaphor: the lack of teeth.

  • Comment appelle-t-on un ours sans dents ? Un ours en peluche.

"Ours en peluche" is a widely known term, but, if the rendering is humorous enough, it is still far from being as effective in its conveying of the idea, far from being as pungent as the original.

Personally, I can see nothing better than this toned-down correpondence by means of a transposition of the context. It might not satisfy everyone, and to be honest I'd hesitate proposing it as a rendering, preferring perhaps to add an explanation of the pun in the source language or choosing to do nothing but that.

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