être bête comme ses pieds

“Être bête comme ses pieds” is one of my all time favorite French expressions. The literal translation is “to be stupid like his or her feet”. The idiom has lots of English equivalents:

  • to be dumb as a bag of nails
  • to be as dumb as a rock
  • not the sharpest knife in the drawer
  • to be dumb as a doorknob
  • to be as dumb as an ox
  • to be too stupid for words
  • to be thickheaded
  • to be thick as two short planks 
  • to be as dumb as the day is long
  • to be so stupid.

A French-to-French definition is simply être tres bete or très stupide (to be very stupid).

Here’s an example sentence:

  • Le president avait plusieur mois pour reponder a la crise sanitaire et il ne fait que nier la situation. Il est bete comme ses pieds! The president has had several months to respond to the health crisis and all he’s done is deny the situation. He’s as dumb as bag of nails.

Note: There’s another common French expression which uses bete: “bête comme chou“. The literal translation here is “stupid” as cabbage” but the meaning is “easy as pie”, “dead easy” or “dead simple”.

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Video source: Imagiers

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