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Vignette de Les Cygnes sauvages par Bertall représentant la princesse Élisa et les trois crapauds. (Thumbnail of The Wild Swans by Bertall representing the Princess Eliza and three toads.)

Crapaud is a French word meaning "toad" in English.


Crapaud is sometimes used as an incorrect reference to the Fleur-de-lys on the ancient heraldic flag of the kings of France. The three fleurs-de-lys were sometimes misinterpreted as "three toads erect, saltant", instead of "three lily flowers".[1]

In fiction

The word crapaud is used extensively by fictional British soldier Richard Sharpe as a derogatory term for the French in Bernard Cornwell's novels set during the Napoleonic Wars.[2]

Jean Crapaud

Jean Crapaud, also Johnny Crappeau or Johnny Crappo, as defined by Webster's Online Dictionary, "is a jocose name given to a Frenchman. It is intended as a national personification of the French people as a whole in much the same sense as John Bull is to the English. It is sometimes used as a literary device to refer to a typical Frenchman, usually in the form of Monsieur Jean Crapaud."[3] The usage of the word "crapaud" in this case is similar to the derogative use of the word "frog", referencing the supposed French affinity for frog legs as a delicacy, and thus considered to be a slur and derogative.

Jersey Crapaud

The name Crapaud is used in the Channel Islands to describe a person from Jersey in a derogatory way, the name meaning toad in the local Patois languages, including Jèrriais and Guernésiais. Toads live in Jersey but not on the other islands.[4]



  1. ^ Ebenezer Cobham Brewer (2001). The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. pp. 438–439. ISBN 1840223103. Fleur-de-lis, -lys, or -luce (Fr. lily-flower), which is the name of several varieties of iris, and also of the heractic lily, which is here shown and which was borne as a charge on the old French royal coat-of-arms. In the reign of Louis VII (1137–80) the national standard was thickly charged with flowers. In 1365 the number was reduced by Charles VI to three (the mystical church number). Guillim, in his Display of Heraldrie, 1611, says the device is "Three toads erect, saltant". 
  2. ^ Ellen J. Millington. Heraldry in history, poetry, and romance. Chapman and Hall; 1858 [cited 27 September 2012]. p. 8–.
  3. ^ Jean Crapaud. Webster's Online Dictionary. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Jersey toad is unique species, say experts". BBC. 

Further reading

  • James Edwards (Professor.). John Bull, Uncle Sam and Johnny Crapaud. Henry G. Little; 1888.
  • James Edwards. John Bull, Uncle Sam and Johnny Crapaud. BiblioBazaar; February 2010. ISBN 978-1-144-02435-0.
  • Mary Alice Fontenot. Clovis Crawfish and the Curious Crapaud. Pelican Publishing; 1 November 1986. ISBN 978-0-88289-610-6.

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