I'm looking for a translation of "Crâne de piaf", in English, in the context of a nickname given to some fictional character.

Also, take note that I am native from France. What I'm looking for, precisely, is an english nickname equivalent of "crâne de piaf".

A little more context is probably welcome: the character I'm thinking about was a very highly intelligent guy, an inventor, a physician, etc. But, at some point he progressively lose his humanity, by becoming something close to an undead. His intelligence is progressively reduced to that of a typical undead in fantasy books/stories.

One day, as he progressively becomes undead, his skull becoming more apparent (but not completely), he visits a little girl he used to know before the beginning of his transformation. And she do not recognize her. Instead, she calls him "crâne de piaf".

Much later, he will become a threat for all living being in the region and take this name - because he do not recall his real name.

What would be a good english equivalent for this name ?

  • I can't think of an English equivalent for "sparrow skull" as a nickname. Ravens are scary in literature; and bird skulls are frightening in themselves, so maybe Raven Skull could work. Also chek out this bird condition nicknamed "lizard-head." That might work as a name.
    – JLG
    Oct 11, 2014 at 15:03
  • "Oui, crâne de piaf. Hell, yes, chickenhead! " en.bab.la/dictionary/french-english/piaf (= dumb girl?)
    – Kris
    Oct 11, 2014 at 15:05
  • Skeletor? Oct 11, 2014 at 15:26
  • "Crâne de piaf" in french refers to someone particularly stupid. It's an insult, in french. The nickname should reflect something like that, but at the same time, it should refer to the (semi-)apparent skull.
    – davcha
    Oct 11, 2014 at 16:12

4 Answers 4


The only "not intelligent" + "skull" that I can think of is numbskull:

a dull-witted or stupid person; dolt. Since 1710-20, originally spelled numskull.

Per webanswers,

The word numbskull or numskull was derived from the Middle English words nome + scolle. The first recorded usage of the term was in the early 18th century. The actual origin of the word is unknown. Numskull or numbskull is defined as a dim-witted person, imbecile, dolt or moron. The archaic definition is a reference to the actual physical head of a person that is lacking intelligence.

Etymonline states:

1717, numskull, from num, old spelling of numb (adj.) + skull. Numskulled (adj.) is attested from 1706.

From World Wide Words

here in John Arbuthnot’s satirical pamphlet of 1712, The Law is a Bottomless Pit: “Have you no more manners than to rail at Hocus, that has saved that clod-pated, numskull’d ninnyhammer of yours from ruin, and all his family?”

  • You beat me to it. +1
    – WS2
    Oct 11, 2014 at 21:49

Birdbrain of course. (which is both related to sparrow and skull)

Slang A person regarded as silly or stupid.


A depiction of "crâne de piaf":

enter image description here



Pinhead. But this can also refer to someone with microcephaly.

Both "Crâne de piaf" and "pinhead" make use of the idea (whether necessarily true or not) that a small head implies little intelligence.


Whilst numbskull would have been my chosen answer had not @medica got there first, another possibility is scatterbrain. It has a rather different meaning to numbskull. whilst the first means dim-witted, scatterbrain suggests someone disorganised and lacking in concentration.

A dickhead on the other hand is 'a stupid, irritating, or ridiculous man'

Oxford Dictionaries on-line.

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