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. In February 2003, during the early phases of the Iraq War, the term was used by National Review journalist Jonah Goldberg. In April 1999, he previously used the term.


The term "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" first appeared in "'Round Springfield," an April 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]

In February 2012, Keeler confirmed this in an interview, 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]


Use of the term has grown outside of the United States, particularly in the United Kingdom, where The Simpsons is popular.

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 August 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for its December 7, 2006, front page, referring to the Iraq Study Group and its recommendation that U.S. soldiers be withdrawn from Iraq by January 2008.[9] Articles in the Daily Mail (2005 & 2009) used the term to describe France's "attitude problem"[10] and the "muted" European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 (November 2010) cited it in relation to Anglo-French military cooperation.[12]

In August 2013, The Independent suggested an evolution away from the term, in a headline about French-American relations over the Syrian Civil War.[13]

The term was used on an episode of Top Gear, on 4 June 2006, when former host Jeremy Clarkson used the term to describe the manufacturers of the Citroën C6. The term was previously used on Top Gear in June 2003, when Jeremy Clarkson used it to describe the handling of the Renault Clio V6.

In December 2005, the phrase was used by Nigel Farage, who said of the then–French President, Jacques Chirac, "No cheese-eating surrender monkey, he", in his unflattering comparison to then–Prime Minister Tony Blair, during a European Parliament session. The term 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. 
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