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face de bœuf

In her book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, Maude talks about a psychologist at the hospital where she received chemotherapy.

The psychologist is arrogant and incompetent, and Maude dislikes her intensely. Tongue in cheek, she refers to the psychologist as “Barbie” throughout her book.

At one point, Maude happens to walk past Barbie in one of the hospital’s corridors. Still upset about Barbie’s poor behaviour from an earlier encounter, Maude says she gave Barbie the best nasty look she could muster:

Je lui ai fait mon plus bel air de bœuf.
I gave her my best nasty look.

Un air de bœuf is a look of nastiness or grumpiness. You’ll also come across the expression une face de bœuf, which is a nasty or grumpy looking face.

In Québec, don’t be surprised to hear the animal bœuf pronounced as beu, in both the singular and plural forms: un beu, deux beux.

Speaking of deux beux, maybe you’ll remember an entry on OffQc waaaay back in #177 where I mentioned that one of the tentative names for the TV show 19-2 was Deux beux. That’s because beux is also a slang word for cops, and the two protagonists in 19-2 are cops, deux beux.

But let’s get back to air de bœuf and face de bœuf (air de beu, face de beu). Here’s an example from a blog called Les aventures de la famille Cloutier-Beauséjour about an angry waitress:

On attend quelques minutes et la serveuse arrive avec sa face de bœuf. Elle nous garroche les ustensiles […].
We wait a few minutes and then the waitress shows up with a grumpy look on her face. She throws the utensils at us.

La Parlure also provides a useful example of air de bœuf (the c in donc is silent in this example):

Qu’est-ce qui se passe? T’as donc ben un air de bœuf!
What’s the matter? You look really grouchy!

So, there you go. Now you know — if you hear someone described as having an ox face, it’s because it looks like that person is in a bad mood with a grumpy or unfriendly look on the face.

avoir un air de bœuf
faire un air de bœuf
avoir une face de bœuf
faire une face de bœuf

As for Maude’s incompetent Barbie at the hospital, I had my own Barbie to deal with after my foot was crushed in an accident. My Barbie was a nurse though, not a psychologist, and I had a much less flattering name for her…

_ _ _

First quote written by: Maude Schiltz, Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, tome 1, Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013, page 150.

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