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Understand French better with these 14 slang phrases

From tu me gonfles to démerdes-toi, these familiar French phrases should help get you in tune with what you hear on the streets

French is full of familiar language and slang Pic: TungCheung / Shutterstock

French, like all languages, is full of familiar phrases that are far from what you would learn in the classroom. 

When people first move to France, they can initially be surprised by how much familiar language is used in their everyday lives. But, when you think about it, English is exactly the same.

Learning a few slang phrases is a great way to elevate your language skills and impress your French friends by speaking more like a local. 

It can also make the process of language learning more interesting as you listen out for new phrases to add to your ever-growing vocabulary. 

Here are a few to get you started.

1. Avoir le seum

Meaning: to be disappointed or annoyed about something. This can be used to express disappointment or annoyance about something. 

2. Dégueulasse

Meaning: disgusting. This is like dégoûtant but is a more extreme way of saying it. 

Read also: Chépa, Chui: Six French ‘slurred’ words you may find hard to recognise

3. Etre le sang

Meaning: to be like blood. For example: T’es le sang. This is used in the context of saying that someone is like family to you. 

4. Kiffer

Meaning: to like. This is used to express like or love for something.

5. Taf

Meaning: work or job. This comes from the slang verb “taffer” which means to work. 

6. Ta gueule

Meaning: Shut up. This translates to “your mouth” but in slang, it means “shut up”.

7. Tu me gonfles

Meaning: You annoy me. This literally means you make me swell up but in this context, it means “you’re annoying me” or “you annoy me”.

Read also: How to gain confidence in speaking French

8. Démerdes-toi

Meaning: Do it yourself. This comes from the verb “se démerder” which means “to sort out” or “to deal with”. In this context “démerdes-toi” means “do it yourself”. 

9. C’est du lourd

Meaning: That is great. This literally means “that is heavy” but in this context, it means something is great or excellent. 

10. La gnôle

Meaning: cheap alcohol. This refers to cheap wine or cheap alcohol generally. If you want to test out your French slang knowledge, listen to “La gnôle” by DJ Matafan on Spotify. 

11. Trop kiki/trop mimi

Meaning: So cute. This is mainly used when talking to young kids. “Mimi” comes from “mignon” which means cute. 

12. Ça caille

Meaning: It is so cold/freezing. Cailler in slang means to be freezing. 

13. Grave 

Meaning: Seriously/totally. If someone replies to you simply saying “grave” it is likely to mean “seriously” or “totally”. 

14. Je m’en fous

Meaning: I don’t care. This is a very familiar way of saying “I don’t care” or “I couldn’t care less”. 

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