Cajun French: Tête Dur

I started to panic this month when I realized I was slowly running out of Cajun French words and phrases to share with y’all. So I sat my sister-in-law and parrain down so I could get some more information.

There we were, sitting on the porch Sunday morning when my parrain reached over, popped my mom in the head with the palm of his hand and said, “tête dur!” I didn’t even need to ask him what it meant, the smack to the head was plenty explanation for me. It means “hard-headed”. And that’s something we’ve all heard from our parents once or five million times. Of course, not all parents throw in the forehead smack, but we do talk with our hands down here.

So here’s what we have tête dur, pronounced “tet” rhyming with “net” and “dur” like the u sound in “puree”My mom didn’t use this word with us. She just called us stubborn or hard-headed, but after my parrain knocked her in the head, she said, “I forgot Mama used to say that to us.” Now by Mama, she means her grandmother who spoke Cajun French and apparently taught all of her grandchildren the swear words without realizing it. (I’ll get to that story another time.)

You can use this phrase in a couple of ways:

Just plain old: tête dur! (Forehead smack optional)
And: “Mais, you’re so tête dur!”

Is this a phrase you think you can use? I have to ask, will you use the forehead smack? It’s okay, you can tell me!

And don’t forget, tonight is Swamp People on the History Channel. If you want to hear some great Cajun accents, give it a look-see!

31 Comments

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31 responses to “Cajun French: Tête Dur

  1. Love your posts, woman! And the phrase applies to everyone in my family.

    Maybe you can help me. I can give you the pronunciation phonetically, but need the spelling. The old people used to call it to someone meaning “Crazy, but crazy like a fox.” Pronounced ‘foose (like fooseball) mott’ (like Mott’s applejuice). You hear the neatest things just staying quiet and listening, dontcha? I only wish I could spell them!

    • I’m not entirely sure, but I think it’s a combination of two different words put together to make someone “crazy smart” Fou (which means crazy) and Smatte (which means smart). Put them together and you have something like fou smatte.

    • michael toups

      kuyone ku’yone ku like too yone like uall means crazy or stupid foolish depends in the context of the subject form being presented

  2. I am so using that on my husband tonight!

  3. My kids are tête dur for sure. Does the “dur” ryhme with “pure”?

    • Hmm, yeah I think it kind of does, but not a long U and don’t put much emphasis on the R

      • Hmm, then maybe more like “door”, but with a midsouth twang…

        Ok, I think I got it. (don’t worry if you don’t following my ‘door’ logic, it’s makes perfect sense in my head-lol)

      • LOL, it’s more like hm, trying to think of a word…man, this is hard! LOL I keep pronouncing it and what happens is my lower jaw comes up and out a bit um…tsk Think of someone saying mon dieu in French and you almost have the U sound, LOL

    • michael toups

      nope dur like endure but d’ure tet’ d no e like da a is silent dure or d’ure

  4. I love this- I love forehead slapping!! LOL!

  5. LOVE THIS! The picture is awesome, too!

  6. I love these posts. I haven’t been able to comment as much lately, but I’m so going to have to give you kudos on my acknowledgment page of a novella I’m writing. Thanks for keeping this post alive!

  7. I love these posts. I’m glad you came up with some new words. LOL *forehead slap optional* :)

  8. Renee

    Dur..sounds like two in french,..deaux or du

  9. Rachel

    We are watching Swamp People right now! Liz mentions tete dur as the name of a gator. Thanks for the explanation, we will be checking your site often!

  10. Love Swamp People – I think Troy Landry, Jor and Tommy and Liz are my favorites! Love the accents abd have learned two new words – pas tout la from RJ an J Paul and tete dur from Liz!

  11. michael toups

    i am so proud of my goddaughter

  12. Jerry McCall

    my wife is from Ville Platte, her mom and she say it tet zue, dialect, I guess=)

    • Dialect has a lot to do with words. OMG, even when English is being spoken, some people have such thick accents, I can’t understand them. But not people from Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes LOL

  13. Lol. ‘dis is great! Not sure (bc I’m on my phone… But looking for the cajun/creole phrase “Well, I’ll be damn!”. I remember it something like… Phonetically … May ga dae don … Yikes, tjats terrible. Hahaha.

  14. Faith Johnson-Thibodeaux

    Dear Madame,
    I came upon your musings on Cajun French through a friend’s Facebook page and found it pretty delightful. However, your routine claim of nervousness of running out of material for your blog is silly and a little juvenile/naive. Cajun French is an ever evolving language that will never run out of new combinations because the people who live and breathe this culture are routinely adapting it to suit their daily lives. You obviously have some real connection to the Cajun French language/culture because you have a parrain. That is why I found in your assertion that Swamp People is a great place to learn or experience everything Cajun, mind boggling. I also felt it was simultaneously insulting as well as showing your lack of understanding of my culture. I grew up and have lived in Lafayette, LA most of my life. Lafayette is the center of Acadiana and the heart of Cajun country. Although ethnically I am Irish, I have always considered myself part of this culture because of my family’s history in the area. I can tell you definitively that you won’t find a single intelligent person here that will agree with you that Swamp People, an inaccurate show full of exploited unintelligible speaking NON-cajuns that a network has decided to fool the rest of our country with, has ANYTHING to do with the culture and language that we here are so proud of. This assertion of yours only serves to fool and mislead. By the way, we here also hate the show “Cajun pawn stars” as those people are in Alexandria and are definitely not Cajun.
    Thank you for your time,

    Faith A. Johnson-Thibodeaux

    • Ma’am, while I appreciate your comment, I too was born and raised in South Louisiana. South of I-10 to be exact. If you were to read more than this one post, you would see that my fears of running out of material is more due to my lack of Cajun French skills than anything else. I have long been a supporter of keeping Cajun French alive and well and showing the world that we are more than the shows on television.

      My family has lived in this area since the 18th century and Cajun French was always a part of my family’s life until my grandfather was beaten for speaking it in school. Hence the language was lost to us.

      As for Swamp People, I was pleased for once to see a show that wasn’t about New Orleans and Bourbon Street. I know very well that it’s far from being an accurate representation of this region and it’s people.

      Thank you for your time and comment.

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