Open main menu



Borrowing from French


affreux pl (plural only)

  1. A group of particularly brutal mercenaries who were active in Africa and Asia during the 1960s.
    • 1972, Jean-Claude Willame, Patrimonialism and Political Change in the Congo, →ISBN, page 74:
      As one Belgian journalist wrote: The affreux ["frightful ones"] are outstanding in combat.
    • 1998, John Sturrock, The Word from Paris: Essays on Modern French Thinkers and Writers, →ISBN:
      I could no longer find anything affected in that long smooth white face but an extreme kindness and a sort of obstinate candour; Vian was as Herv in his detestation of the affreux [the frightful ones] as in loving what he loved.
    • 2003, Máire O'Brien, The same age as the state, page 249:
      These were mostly, but not exclusively, members of the Baluba tribe and had fled the persecution of Munongo's mercenary affreux and their black rank-and-file.
    • 2010, Martin Windrow, Our Friends Beneath the Sands, →ISBN:
      It takes a rather wilful ignorance to refuse to recognize the essential difference between, say, the affreux of mid-twentieth-century Africa and the Royal Gurkha Rifles, though both could loosely be described as mercenaries.
    • 2014, Joseph Finder, The Zero Hour, →ISBN:
      He had once been one of the dreaded affreux, the “frightful ones,” the white freelance soldiers who helped keep dictators in power throughout Africa and Asia.
    • 2015, Tor Sellström, Africa in the Indian Ocean: Islands in Ebb and Flow, →ISBN, page 169:
      France's return to Comoros was, above all, conspicuous through the actions of the mercenary leader Bob Denard and his team of affreux ('dreadful').

Usage notesEdit

Often, these mercenaries were called les affreux, using the French definite article.


affreux (comparative more affreux, superlative most affreux)

  1. (rare) Dreadful; disturbing or frightening.
    • 1830, The Cambrian Quarterly Magazine and Celtic Repertory:
      And when I signified my intention of making a tour of the whole province, they most earnestly advised me to alter my plans, and occupy my time in visiting some other part of the kingdom; for they assured me, that all travellers who attempted Basse Bretagne, returned in disgust before they went more thant a few stages into the country, for that its general aspect was that of desolation itself; the roads were impassable ; and the people dirty, ragged barbarians, living in filthy huts, and clothed in sheepskins; that, in short, everything was affreux.
    • 1834, The London Quarterly Review - Issues 103-106, page 141:
      It was in rain that some common friends represented the tort affreux — the frightful mischief he would do the government of his own creation, if he published this work — all in vain: his honor, his conscience, and his patriotism, required that he should raise his voice in defence of the charter, which the king and his ministers equally violate — and the work is published!
    • 2001, Julian Rushton, The Music of Berlioz, →ISBN, page 22:
      Orpheus calls the sound 'affreux'; the examiners may have agreed.
    • 2011, Alan Furst, Red Gold, →ISBN:
      No doubt they would be talking about the affreux – dreadful – Germans. Not so affreux, of course, that one refused to get rich off them.
    • 2012, Elizabeth Musser, Two Testaments: A Novel, →ISBN, page 300:
      As soon as they were in the courtyard, she whispered, “M. Hoffmann has just appeared looking affreux. And he brought with him his father of all things!”



affre (great fear) +‎ -eux


  • IPA(key): /a.fʁø/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes:


affreux (feminine singular affreuse, masculine plural affreux, feminine plural affreuses)

  1. frightful, causing fear
  2. terrible, rubbish, awful
  3. repulsive

Derived termsEdit

Further readingEdit



  This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.


affreux m

  1. (Jersey) terrible

Derived termsEdit