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Bête – Meaning & Translation – Silly, Stupid in French

Bête – Meaning & Translation – Silly, Stupid in French

Today we’ll look at commonly used French word, bête. As an adjective bête means both silly and stupid. As a noun it means animal, creature, beast or insect. Tu es bête! You are silly! Let’s jump right into the lesson!


silly, stupid, creature

Bête = Silly, stupid, animal, beast or insect in French.

Word origin

The modern French word bête comes from the Old French beste, which in turn come the Latin bestĭa (beast, animal, creature). The word bête is a classic example of where an -e with a circumflex accent (the little hat) replaces an -s in Old French. This lesson on our site covers the French accent marks in detail.

Example sentences

For this first example sentence, bête simply means “stupid” or “dumb”.

Sylvie trouve que Martin est très bête.

Sylvie finds that Martin is very stupid.

In this second example, the meaning changes to “silly”. We loosely translated “je suis bête” (literally I am silly) to the English expression “silly me”.

Je suis bête : j’ai encore oublié les clés !

Silly me! I forgot my keys again!

As mentioned, bête as a feminine noun translates to beast or animal. The French expression sale bête (literally dirty beast) is used to mean “bad” or “annoying” animal. Hence, the translation “bad dog”.

Sale bête ! Descends !

Bad dog! Get down!

In French, the feminine noun bêtise is related to bête and means silly mistake or error. The expression raconter des bêtises means to “talk nonsense”.

Ah zut ! J’ai encore fait la même bêtise.

Oh shoot! I made the same mistake again!


Et voilà ! You know how to use the French word bête. Now check our lesson covering another fun and useful informal French adjective nul/nulle, which translates to “lousy” or “sucks”.

Example how to use bête in French: Elle est très bête ! She is very silly!
Elle est très bête ! She is very silly!

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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.

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