As students of the French language, we often learn the formal and grammatically correct versions of the language. This, while useful in academic and professional contexts, often leaves us at a loss in day-to-day conversations, where slang and informal language reign supreme. Slang or “argot” is an integral part of the French vernacular, giving color, nuance, and authenticity to conversations.
This blog post will dive into 20 of the most commonly used French slang phrases, their meanings, and how to use them in a sentence. Buckle up as we navigate the exciting world of French slang!
1. Bouquin (n.)
The official word for book is “livre,” but “bouquin” is the more colloquial term. It’s used to describe any book, from novels to textbooks.
Example: “Tu as lu ce bouquin ?” (Have you read this book?)
2. Bosser (v.)
Translation: To work
In formal French, you’d use “travailler,” but in everyday conversation, “bosser” is the more common term.
Example: “Je dois bosser sur mon projet ce soir.” (I have to work on my project tonight.)
3. Pote (n.)
This is a more casual term for friend than “ami,” more akin to “buddy” or “mate.”
Example: “Il est mon meilleur pote.” (He is my best mate.)
4. Fringues (n.)
This is a more informal word for clothes, instead of the standard “vêtements.”
Example: “J’adore tes nouvelles fringues!” (I love your new clothes!)
5. Ouf (adj.)
Translation: Crazy or incredible
This is an example of “verlan,” a type of French slang that involves reversing the letters of words. “Ouf” is “fou” (crazy) in verlan.
Example: “Cette fête était ouf!” (That party was crazy!)
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6. Bouffer (v.)
Translation: To eat
While “manger” is the formal term for to eat, “bouffer” is the slang version.
Example: “On va bouffer au restaurant ce soir.” (We’re going to eat at the restaurant tonight.)
7. Kiffer (v.)
Translation: To like, to love
This term originates from Arabic, but it’s widely used in French to denote enjoying something.
Example: “Je kiffe cette chanson.” (I love this song.)
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8. Flic (n.)
Instead of “policier,” which is the formal term for a police officer, “flic” is the colloquial term.
Example: “J’ai vu un flic patrouiller le quartier.” (I saw a cop patrolling the neighborhood.)
9. Bagnole (n.)
Instead of “voiture,” the French often use “bagnole” to describe a car.
Example: “Ma bagnole a besoin d’un entretien.” (My car needs a service.)
10. Tune (n.)
“Tune” is a more colloquial term for money than the standard “argent.”
Example: “Je n’ai pas de tune.” (I have no money.)
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11. Gosse (n.)
This term refers to children, a more casual term than “enfant.”
Example: “Les gosses jouent dans le parc.” (The kids are playing in the park.)
12. Mec (n.)
“Mec” is a colloquial term for a man or a guy, often used among friends.
Example: “Ce mec est très sympa.” (This guy is very nice.)
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13. Nana (n.)
The female counterpart to “mec,” “nana” is a casual term for a girl or woman.
Example: “Cette nana est ma meilleure amie.” (This girl is my best friend.)
14. Dingue (adj.)
“Dingue” is often used to describe something unbelievable or someone who’s acting out of the ordinary.
Example: “C’est dingue combien tu ressembles à ta mère!” (It’s crazy how much you look like your mother!)
15. Dodo (n.)
“Dodo” is a cute, informal term for sleep, often used with children.
Example: “Il est temps pour le dodo.” (It’s time for sleep.)
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16. Baraque (n.)
Instead of “maison,” which is the formal term for a house, “baraque” is a colloquial term often used among friends.
Example: “On va chez toi? Ta baraque est plus proche.” (Are we going to your place? Your house is closer.)
17. Flippant (adj.)
“Flippant” is a slang term used to describe something that is scary or frightening.
Example: “Ce film était vraiment flippant.” (That movie was really scary.)
18. Laisse tomber (phrase)
Translation: Forget it, never mind
“Laisse tomber” is a common phrase used to dismiss a topic or to tell someone not to worry about something.
Example: “Laisse tomber, ce n’est pas important.” (Forget it, it’s not important.)
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19. Taf (n.)
Translation: Work, job
“Taf” is another example of verlan slang, derived from reversing the letters in “travail.”
Example: “J’ai un nouveau taf.” (I have a new job.)
20. Se marrer (v.)
Translation: To have fun, to laugh
“Se marrer” is a slang term used to express the act of having a good laugh or enjoying oneself.
Example: “On s’est bien marrés au spectacle hier soir.” (We had a lot of fun at the show last night.)
Now that we’ve covered some of the most commonly used French slang phrases, let’s delve deeper into how understanding and using these phrases can elevate your “French language learning journey.”
- One of the fascinating aspects of studying “French slang words” is their origin. Many are born from verlan, a form of French slang that involves inverting syllables of words, such as “ouf” from “fou.” Other slang terms have roots in different languages, like “kiffer,” which comes from Arabic. Understanding these origins can greatly enhance your “cultural understanding of France” and its rich linguistic history.
- Using French slang also plays a crucial role in “improving French speaking skills.” It allows you to communicate more naturally and effectively with native French speakers, making you sound less like a textbook and more like a local. This is especially important for those planning to “live in France” or any French-speaking countries.
- Remember, learning a language is more than just grammar rules and vocabulary lists – it’s about embracing the culture, history, and idiosyncrasies of the language. This includes the informal, everyday language used by locals, which textbooks often overlook. Including slang in your “French language study plan” will not only make your learning more enjoyable but will also prepare you for real-life conversations.
- To help you get started, consider using “French language learning apps” or websites that focus on conversational French. These tools often incorporate slang into their lessons, giving you a more practical understanding of the language. Listening to “French podcasts” or watching “French movies” can also expose you to the colloquial language.
- Furthermore, don’t be afraid to practice using these slang words in conversations. Whether you’re chatting with a “French language exchange partner” or speaking to locals during your “trip to France,” using slang can break the ice and make your interactions more engaging.
Top FAQs Related French Slang Phrases
Why is it important to learn French slang?
Learning French slang can help you understand and engage in everyday conversations with native French speakers. It makes your communication more natural and fluent, and it also provides cultural insights.
Is French slang used in all French-speaking countries?
While some French slang is universally understood, different regions and countries have their unique slang words and phrases. It’s always beneficial to learn the local slang when you’re planning to live or travel in a particular French-speaking region.
Can I use French slang in formal situations?
Generally, it’s best to stick to standard French in formal situations. French slang is more suitable for casual, everyday conversations.
Will using French slang make me sound less proficient in French?
On the contrary, using slang appropriately can demonstrate your understanding of the nuances of the French language and make you sound more like a native speaker.
Where can I learn more French slang?
You can learn more French slang through various language-learning apps, French movies, podcasts, music, and even books that focus on colloquial French. Interacting with native speakers is also a great way to learn slang.
Is “verlan” a type of French slang?
Yes, “verlan” is a form of French slang that involves reversing the syllables of words. For instance, “ouf” is “fou” (crazy) in verlan.
What is the best way to practice French slang?
The best way to practice French slang is by using it in conversations. You can practice with a language exchange partner, a tutor, or even friends who are also learning French.
Are there any resources to understand the meaning of French slang?
Yes, there are many online dictionaries and language-learning platforms that provide definitions and examples of French slang. You can also find books focused on French slang.
Can I learn French slang from watching French movies or listening to French music?
Absolutely! French movies, TV shows, music, and podcasts are excellent resources for learning and understanding French slang in context.
Is French slang always informal?
While slang is typically used in informal conversations, certain slang words have found their way into more formal or mainstream usage due to their popularity. However, it’s always best to understand the context in which it’s appropriate to use slang.
In conclusion, understanding French slang is an “essential skill in learning French.” It not only enhances your linguistic competence but also deepens your cultural understanding. So why wait? Start incorporating these slang words into your French vocabulary, and take your language skills to the next level!