Cheese-eating surrender monkeys

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"Cheese-eating surrender monkeys", sometimes shortened to "surrender monkeys", is a pejorative term for French people. The term is based on the stereotype of the French that they surrender quickly. It was coined in 1995 by Ken Keeler, a writer for the television series The Simpsons, and has entered two Oxford quotation dictionaries.


The term "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" first appeared in "'Round Springfield", an April 1995 episode of The Simpsons, an American animated television show.[1] In the episode, budget cuts at Springfield Elementary School force the school's Scottish janitor, Groundskeeper Willie, to teach French. Expressing his disdain for French people, he says in a heavy Scottish burr to the class: "Bonjourrrrrrrrr, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys!"[2][3][4]

On the episode's audio commentary, executive producer Al Jean said the line was "probably" written by The Simpsons staff writer Ken Keeler.[5] In a February 2012 interview, Keeler confirmed that he coined the term; he said he considers it his best contribution to the show.[6] Al 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 for a French audience, the line became "Rendez vous, singes mangeurs de fromage" ("Surrender, you cheese-eating monkeys").[7] For the French-Canadian audience, the dubbed version skips over the line and says "Bonjour, aujourd'hui on va étudier l'accord du participe futur" ("Hi, today we'll be studying the agreement of the future participle").[citation needed]


On 6 March 2014, opposition Leader Bill Shorten used the term in the Australian Parliament. He called the Government of Australia "the cheese-eating surrender monkeys of Australian jobs".[8] When asked to withdraw the comment, Shorten claimed he borrowed the line from an American politician, whom he could not name.[citation needed] On 28 July 2014, Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison used it to describe the Labor and Greens position on asylum seekers.[9]


Jonah Goldberg, an American National Review journalist, used it in the title of an April 1999 column on the "Top Ten Reasons to Hate the French".[10] In the run up to and during the Iraq War, Goldberg reprised it to criticize European nations and France in particular for not joining the Coalition of the Willing, the United States-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.[1]

Ben Macintyre of The Times wrote in August 2007 that it is "perhaps the most famous" of the coinages from The Simpsons and it "has gone on to become a journalistic cliché".[7] The New York Post used it (as "Surrender Monkeys") as the headline for its December 7, 2006, front page, referring to the Iraq Study Group, and its recommendation that American soldiers be withdrawn from Iraq by January 2008.[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]

Other uses[edit]

Anthony Bourdain described fellow chef Patrick Clark in his book Kitchen Confidential (2000) as follows: "He was kind of famous; he was big and black; most important, he was an American, one of us, not some cheese-eating, surrender specialist Froggie."[14]

Jeremy Clarkson used it on Top Gear in June 2003, describing the handling of the Renault Clio V6.[15] He later used it in a 4 June 2006 episode of Top Gear, to describe the manufacturers of the Citroën C6.[citation needed] Later on in the television show, (Series 13, Episode 5) Clarkson describes the other French drivers as "cheese-eating sideways monkeys", referring to the fact that the other drivers were overtaking him while sliding sideways.[citation needed]

In 2005, Nigel Farage utilised the phrase in a debate with Tony Blair over the United Kingdom's financial contributions to the European Union, in which Farage contrasted Blair with Jacques Chirac, whom Farage praised for standing up for the French people, while accusing Blair of failing to do the same for the British people.[16][17]

Ned Sherrin selected it for inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, being introduced in the third edition in 2005.[18] It is also included in the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations.[19]

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 978-0-7864-4490-8.
  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. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. 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. ^ Gabrielle Chan (2014-03-06). "Qantas bill passes lower house - as it happened | Australia news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  9. ^ "Scott Morrison says 157 Tamil asylum seekers are 'economic migrants' not in danger of persecution in India, calls Labor and Greens 'surrender monkeys'". ABC News. 28 July 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  10. ^ Goldberg, Jonah (April 16, 1999). "Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys From Hell". National Review. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
  11. ^ Lathem, Niles (December 7, 2006). "Iraq 'Appease' Squeeze on W." New York Post. Archived from the original on January 26, 2007. Retrieved February 5, 2007.
  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. ^ Bourdain, Anthony (2013). Kitchen Confidential. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-4088-4504-2.
  15. ^ Top Gear - Jeremy Clarkson "Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys", archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2019-09-08
  16. ^ "BREXIT - Relive Nigel Farage vs Tony Blair EU clash at European Parliament". YouTube. ProductiehuisEU. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  17. ^ Mcfadyen, Siobhan (28 August 2016). "Still think the future is Europe, Tony? Watch 2005 Farage give Blair a super EU smackdown". Daily Express. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  18. ^ Sherrin, Ned (2008). The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (fourth ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. p. xii; 137. ISBN 978-0-19-957006-5.
  19. ^ Sharto, Russell (August 24, 2007). "Simpsons quotes enter new Oxford dictionary". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved September 23, 2008.

External links[edit]