Skip to Content

French Idiom: Être bête comme ses pieds (to be very stupid)

French Idiom: Être bête comme ses pieds (to be very stupid)

“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 including “to be dumb as a bag of nails”, “dumb as a rock”, “dumb as a doorknob”, “thinkheaded” and “so stupid”, among others.

Être bête comme ses pieds

French Idiom: Être bête comme ses pieds (to be very stupid)

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

According to, this expression dates from the nineteenth century, where the feet were said to be the body part the furthest from the head or “seat of thoughts”, and thus associated with total stupidness or stupidity.

Here’s an example sentences:

Le président avait plusieurs mois pour réponder à la crise sanitaire et il ne fait que nier la situation. Il est bête 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.

Le maire de cette ville est bête comme ses pieds. Ça fait quatre ans qu’il a son poste et il n’a rien fait!

The mayor of this city is dumb as rocks. He’s been in his position for four years and he hasn’t done anything!

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


Congratulations! You now knwo how to use the expression, bête comme ses pieds. Now to check out our post covering another related expression casser les pieds (to annoy).

Sharing is caring!

Affiliate disclosure: Below you will find affiliate links. If you purchase something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission. To learn more please visit our full disclosure page. Merci!

Sign up to download your free trial of À Moi Paris a French course which I recommend to my personal students to help with pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. After that, upgrade for access to 77 hours of audio lessons.

Read our full review of À Moi Paris and find out why we love it so much!

Are you struggling with French verb conjugations? Then we highly recommend French Today's French Verb Drills course. Get over 28 hours of audio exercises to build reflexes and dramatically improve your French level and confidence.

Read our full review of French Verb Drills and find out why we recommend this course!

David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

See all posts by