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 episode from April 1995 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, in France, the line became "Rendez-vous, singes mangeurs de fromage" ("Surrender, you cheese-eating monkeys").[7] In Canada, meanwhile, the French dubbed version skips over the line and says "Bonjour, aujourd'hui on va étudier l'accord du participe futur" ("Hi, today we'll study the past-future verb tense").


Use of the term has grown outside of the United States, particularly in the United Kingdom.


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".[8] When asked to withdraw the comment, Shorten claimed he borrowed the line from an American politician, whom he could not name.[9] On 28 July 2014, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison used it to describe the Labor and Greens position on asylum seekers.[10]


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".[11] 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 American soldiers be withdrawn from Iraq by January 2008.[12]

Articles in the Daily Mail (2005 and 2009) used it to describe France's "attitude problem"[13] and the "muted" European reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden;[14] The Daily Telegraph (November 2010) cited it in relation to Anglo-French military cooperation.[15] In August 2013, The Independent suggested an evolution away from the term, in a headline about French-American relations over the Syrian Civil War.[16]

Other uses

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."[17]

Jeremy Clarkson used it on Top Gear in June 2003, describing the handling of the Renault Clio V6.[18] He later used it in a 4 June 2006 episode of Top Gear, to describe the manufacturers of the Citroën C6. 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 whilst sliding sideways.

Ned Sherrin selected it for inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, being introduced in the third edition in 2005.[19] It is also included in the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations.[20]

See also


  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. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Phibbs, Harry (2009-05-08). "Capitulation, collaboration and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  14. ^ "'Cheese-eating surrender monkeys': Anger grows at 'arrogant' Europeans' muted reaction to Bin Laden killing". Daily Mail. 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  15. ^ Rayment, Sean (2010-11-02). "Anglo-French force: Cheese-eating surrender monkeys? Non". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  16. ^ Lichfield, John (30 August 2013). "From 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' to America's new best friends?". The Independent. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  17. ^ Bourdain, Anthony (2013). Kitchen Confidential. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-4088-4504-2.
  18. ^ Top Gear - Jeremy Clarkson "Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys", retrieved 2019-09-08
  19. ^ Sherrin, Ned (2008). The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (fourth ed.). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. xii; 137. ISBN 978-0-19-957006-5.
  20. ^ 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.

External links

'Round Springfield

"'Round Springfield" is the 22nd episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 30, 1995. In the episode, Bart is rushed to the hospital after eating a jagged metal Krusty-O and decides to sue Krusty the Clown. Whilst visiting Bart, Lisa discovered her old mentor, jazz musician Bleeding Gums Murphy, is also in the hospital. He encourages her ahead of a school recital, but the next day, she finds he died overnight, and resolves to honor his memory. Steve Allen (as himself) and Ron Taylor (as Bleeding Gums Murphy) guest star, each in their second appearance on the show. Dan Higgins also returns as the writer and performer of all of Lisa and Bleeding Gums' saxophone solos.

It was written by Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia, based on a story idea by Al Jean and Mike Reiss and was the first episode directed by Steven Dean Moore. Jean and Reiss, who were previously the series' showrunners, returned to produce this episode (as well as "A Star Is Burns") in order to lessen the workload of the show's regular staff. They worked on it alongside the staff of The Critic, the series they had left The Simpsons to create. The episode marks the first time in which a recurring character was killed off in the show, something the staff had considered for a while. The episode features numerous cultural references, including Carole King's song "Jazzman", the actor James Earl Jones and the Kimba the White Lion/The Lion King controversy.

The episode also features the phrase "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", used by Groundskeeper Willie to describe the French. The phrase has since entered the public lexicon. It has been used and referenced by journalists and academics; it appears in two Oxford quotation dictionaries.


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It is thought to be a derivative from the ethnonym Chud.The 18th century Linguarum totius orbis vocabularia comparativa of Peter Simon Pallas has a vocabulary of the "Chukhna language".

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Groundskeeper Willie

Dr. William MacDougal, better known as Groundskeeper Willie, is a recurring character on The Simpsons, voiced by Dan Castellaneta. He is the head groundskeeper at Springfield Elementary School. Willie is almost feral in nature and is immensely proud of his Scottish origin. He is easily identifiable by his red hair and beard, as well as his aggressive temperament and thick, unrealistic Scottish accent.


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Politics in The Simpsons

Politics is a common theme in the animated television series The Simpsons, and this phenomenon has had some crossover with real American politics. U.S. conservatives voiced opposition to the show early in its run, when it was still controversial for its crude humor and irreverent take on family values. Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush said that the U.S. needed to be closer to The Waltons than to The Simpsons. The show's admitted slant towards liberalism has been joked about in episodes such as "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", in which a reference is made to "hundreds of radical right-wing messages inserted into every show by creator Matt Groening". More recently, however, conservative bloggers and commentators have enthusiastically promoted cultural memes from the series, such as Groundskeeper Willie's derisive term for the French, "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".Political topics addressed on The Simpsons include homophobia and gay marriage (in the episodes "Homer's Phobia" and "There's Something About Marrying"), immigration and border control (“Much Apu About Nothing,” “Midnight Rx”, “Coming to Homerica”), drug and alcohol abuse ("Brother's Little Helper", "Weekend at Burnsie's", "Smoke on the Daughter", "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", "Duffless", "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)", and "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses"), gun rights ("The Cartridge Family"), environmental issues ("The Old Man and the Lisa", "Trash of the Titans", "Lisa the Tree Hugger", "The Wife Aquatic", "The Squirt and the Whale", in addition to being an important plot device in the feature-length film), election campaigns ("Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish", "Sideshow Bob Roberts", "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington", "See Homer Run", "E Pluribus Wiggum", "Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson"), and corruption ("Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington").


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