Malin - Smart or Stupid?

Michael-W

In Lesson 13.1 there is a phrase that says, " j'aurais l'air malin" which is translated as "I would look stupid".
I looked up "malin" in several dictionaries and never found the word stupid associated with it. I fact its primary meaning is smart, clever, cunning. The other meanings include mischievous, evil...but nothing that I could construe as "stupid".

Any thoughts??

toru e

Good question, I found this context in my Oxford Hachette dictionary. It seems to be a particular locution of « avoir l'air malin ».

J'ai eu l'air malin ! =>I looked a right fool! (or I looked like a total fool!)

Michael-W

Thanks for your response, Torusan. I guess this is some obscure phrase that can't be found in many texts, but may or may not be used verbally commonly.
So, do you think if I met a French woman and was talking to her and wanted to give her a compliment, I should not say, "Vous avez l'air maline." but it would be OK to say "Vous etes bien maline".??

toru e

Hmm...not sure, but I would omit the «bien» or other qualifier since it seems to transform it into some other connotation. I would just say  «Vous êtes maligne » to avoid Definition A2 below and possibly call her "difficult", just to be sure. :)

By the way, re-reading the definitions again, I see that under « J'ai eu l'air malin ! », it does say irony as a parenthetical, so I guess it's implied that since the speaker is saying "I seem clever" that he/she is being ironic.

So, here are the other locutions  :

A.  malin/maligne (adj)
1.  intelligent
- il est trop malin pour se laisser prendre - he's too clever to be taken in
- elle ne pas bien/très maligne - she isn't very bright
- j'ai eu l'air malin ! (irony)
- c'est malin ! - very clever! (irony)
- ce n'est pas (très) malin de ta part - that wasn't very clever/bright of you
- bien malin celui qui peut me dire - a prize for anyone who can tell me

2.  difficile
- ce n'est pas plus malin que ça - that's all there is to it
- ce n'est pas bien malin - it's not exactly difficult

3.  mechant
- prendre un malin plaisir à faire - to take a malicious pleasure in doing
- l'esprit malin - the Evil One, the Devil

4.  tumeur

B.  malin/maligne (nom m,f)
1.  personne rusée - clever person
- un petit malin - little devil, smart aleck (irony)
- regardez-moi ce gros malin ! - who's the smart one!
- faire le/son malin - to show off
- jouer au plus malin - to play the wise guy

2.  le Malin - Satan, the Devil

Michael-W

Thanks again, Torusan

Wow, it's funny how one word can have such seemingly contradictory or opposite meanings. Look at the degradation of your definitions above from "intelligent to Satan"!! I think I'd stick with "Vous semblez tres intelligente".

By the way, nice dictionary!

Merci

Mohammed-H7

thanks it's really good

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