Cheese-eating surrender monkeys

"Cheese-eating surrender monkeys", sometimes shortened to "surrender monkeys", is a pejorative term for French people. 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 American animated television show The Simpsons.[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 the French people, he says to his French class in his Scottish accent: "Bonjoooouuurrr, ya cheese-eatin' 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 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.

Jonah Goldberg, a conservative American National Review journalist, used it as the title of an April 1999 column called "Top Ten Reasons to Hate the French".[8] 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 United States in its invasion and occupation of Iraq.[1]

Ben Macintyre of Times of London 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for its December 7, 2006, front page, referring to the Iraq Study Group and its recommendation that U.S. soldiers be withdrawn from Iraq by January 2008.[9] Articles in the Daily Mail (2005 & 2009) used it to describe France's "attitude problem"[10] and the "muted" European reaction to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]

Jeremy Clarkson used it on a 4 June 2006 episode of Top Gear, to describe the manufacturers of the Citroën C6. He had previously used it on Top Gear in June 2003, describing the handling of the Renault Clio V6. Later on in the TV 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 whilst sliding sideways.

In December 2005, Nigel Farage 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. Ned Sherrin selected it 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]

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used it in Australian Parliament on 6 March 2014, describing the Government of Australia as "the cheese-eating surrender monkeys of Australian jobs".[16] When asked to withdraw the comment, Shorten claimed he borrowed the line from an American politician, whom he could not name.[17] On 28 July 2014, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison used it to describe the Labor and Greens position on asylum seekers.[18]

See also


  1. 1 2 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. 1 2 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. 1 2 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. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. 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. Gabrielle Chan. "Qantas bill passes lower house - as it happened | Australia news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  17. Bourke, Latika (2014-03-05). "On Twitter: "OL Bill Shorten says the cheese eating surrender monkey line is borrowed from an American politician."". Retrieved 2016-01-30.
  18. "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 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2016-01-30.

External links

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