Cheese-eating surrender monkeys

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"Cheese-eating surrender monkeys", sometimes shortened to "surrender monkeys", is a pejorative term for the French people. The term was coined in 1995 by Ken Keeler, a writer for the television series The Simpsons. The term has entered two Oxford quotation dictionaries. The term was also used by National Review journalist Jonah Goldberg during the early phases of the Iraq War.


The term "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" first appeared in "'Round Springfield," a 1995 episode of the American animated television show The Simpsons.[1] In the episode, budget cuts at Springfield Elementary School force the Scottish janitor, Groundskeeper Willie, to teach French. Expressing his disdain for the French people, he says to his French class in his Scottish accent: "Bonjoooouuurrr, ya cheese-eatin' surrender monkeys!"[2][3][4] On the audio commentary for the episode, executive producer Al Jean said the line was "probably" written by The Simpsons staff writer Ken Keeler.[5] Keeler confirmed this in an interview in 2012 and stated that he considers it to be his best contribution to the show.[6] Jean commented that the staff did not expect the term to become widely used and never intended it as any kind of genuine political statement.[5] When "'Round Springfield" was dubbed in French, the line became "Rendez-vous, singes mangeurs de fromage" ("Surrender, you cheese-eating monkeys").[7]


The term was used by Jonah Goldberg, a conservative American National Review journalist in April 1999 as the title of a column called "Top Ten Reasons to Hate the French".[8] In the run-up to and during the Iraq War, Goldberg reprised the phrase to criticize European nations and France in particular for not joining the United States in its invasion and occupation of Iraq.[1]

Ben Macintyre of Times of London wrote in 2007 that the term is "perhaps the most famous" of the coinages from The Simpsons and it "has gone on to become a journalistic cliché."[7] The term was used by the New York Post (as "Surrender Monkeys") as the headline for its December 7, 2006, front page, referring to the Iraq Study Group and its recommendation that U.S. soldiers be withdrawn from Iraq by early 2008.[9] Articles in the Daily Mail (2005 and 2009) used the term to describe France's "attitude problem"[10] and the "muted" European reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden;[11] The Daily Telegraph (2010) cited it in relation to Anglo-French military cooperation.[12] The Independent suggested an evolution away from the term in a 2013 headline about French-American relations over the Syrian Civil War.[13]

The quote was selected by Ned Sherrin for inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, being introduced in the third edition in 2005.[14] It is also included in the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations.[15]

The term was used in Australian Parliament on 6 March 2014, when Opposition Leader Bill Shorten described the Government of Australia as "the cheese-eating surrender monkeys of Australian jobs".[16] Upon being asked to withdraw the comment, Shorten claimed the line was borrowed from an American politician, whom he could not name.[17]

The term "surrender monkeys" was again used in Australian politics on 28 July 2014 by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison describing the Labor and Greens position on asylum seekers [18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Younge, Gary; Henley, Jon (2003-02-11). "Wimps, weasels and monkeys — the US media view of 'perfidious France'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  2. ^ Turner 2004, p. 54.
  3. ^ Richmond & Coffman 1997, p. 173.
  4. ^ Du Vernay, Denise; Waltonen, Karma (2010). The Simpsons In The Classroom: Embiggening the Learning Experience with the Wisdom of Springfield. McFarland. p. 12. ISBN 0-7864-4490-8. 
  5. ^ a b Jean, Al (2005). The Simpsons The Complete Sixth Season DVD commentary for the episode "'Round Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  6. ^ Du Vernay, Denise (2012-02-14). "Best 'Simpsons' Moments: Castmembers Share Their Favorite Contributions to Celebrate the 500th Episode". OC Weekly. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  7. ^ a b Macintyre, Ben (2007-08-11). "Last word: Any word that embiggens the vocabulary is cromulent with me". The Times. Retrieved 2011-08-03. (subscription required)
  8. ^ Goldberg, Jonah (1999-04-16). "Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys From Hell". National Review. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  9. ^ Lathem, Niles (2006-12-07). "Iraq 'Appease' Squeeze on W.". New York Post. Archived from the original on 2007-01-26. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  10. ^ Phibbs, Harry (2009-05-08). "Capitulation, collaboration and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  11. ^ "'Cheese-eating surrender monkeys': Anger grows at 'arrogant' Europeans' muted reaction to Bin Laden killing". Daily Mail. 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  12. ^ Rayment, Sean (2010-11-02). "Anglo-French force: Cheese-eating surrender monkeys? Non". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-08-03. 
  13. ^ Lichfield, John (30 August 2013). "From ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ to America's new best friends?". The Independent. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Sherrin, Ned (2008). The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (fourth ed.). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. xii; 137. ISBN 0-19-957006-X. 
  15. ^ Shorto, Russell (2007-08-24). "Simpsons quotes enter new Oxford dictionary". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  16. ^
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  18. ^

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