The French idiom "Être de mauvais poil"

Ready to find out all the things you need to know about the funny expression “Être de mauvais poil”?

Including a detailed definition of what it is and how you can use it in a dialogue with an audio example. Along with the cool informations we added like slow pronunciation audio, dialogue example, synonym and more!

Finally, on this page you will find our others expressions explained plus the list of all our French words pages on this page. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

Artboard 1
Artboard 1
Artboard 1
Showcase of this quote from our Instagram account
Daily posts like this on Instagram → @all.french

French to English

Pronunciation guide

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean exactly?


  • Être → To be
  • De → Of
  • Mauvais poil → Bad hair

This idiom is coming from the 19th century and makes a direct link between hairs and the mood. Because hairs are the first thing that you see when you look at someone, even before the skin. (Physically speaking)

And “mentally” speaking, the mood is the first thing that we see when we look at someone. So, instead of saying that someone is in a bad mood, we say that this person is “of bad hair“. Building a bridge between the mental and the body.

How to use it

Let’s imagine your brother wants to talk with your dad, but you noticed he is in a bad mood today. So you would say to your brother: “Ne lui parle pas, il est de mauvais poil aujourd’hui.” (Don’t talk to him, he is in a bad mood today.)

Another scenario, someone asks you: “How do you feel today?” and you don’t feel good at all. Then instead of just saying “Pas très bien” (Not very good) you can say “Je suis de mauvais poil, et toi?” (I am in a bad mood, and you?)

Fun facts

We like this expression so much that we also have one to say the exact opposite: “Être de bon poil” (To be of good hair).


  • Être mal luné → To be bad moon
  • S’être levé du pied gauche → To woke up from the left foot
  • Je suis de mauvais poil → I am of bad hair
  • Tu es de mauvais poil → You are of bad hair
  • Il est de mauvais poil → He is of bad hair
  • Elle est de mauvais poil → She is of bad hair

Audio dialogue example

Audio dialogue by French natives

Dialogue audio

Dialogue script

Ça va ? Tu as l’air énervée “
” Are you ok? You seems to be upset “
” Je suis de mauvais poil aujourd’hui ! “
” I’m of bad hair today! “
Showcase of this dialogue from our Pinterest account
More pins like this on Pinterest → @allbfrench