The French you don't learn in school can often be the French you hear in real-life situations. Close friends in casual scenarios don't speak like a textbook. That's why we've picked out some of the most common slang words we've heard in French. You don't necessarily want to use these words in professional situations, or amongst polite acquaintances. But when you're at a party or walking along the streets of Paris, you're more than likely to hear them.
1. Je suis crevé(e) - I am exhausted
When you're very tired, this phrase comes in handy. It's the less polite version of "Je suis fatigué(e). Similarly, "J'ai la flemme" means "I can't really be bothered."
2. J'ai la dalle - I am super hungry
This literally means "I have the slab", so who knows why it's the familiar way to say you're hungry? Another way of saying this is "Je meurs de faim" (I'm dying of hunger). Or of course, there's the polite version, "J'ai faim."
3. Ça roule - That works
When you say "That rolls" in French, you're saying, "Sure, that works for me," or a similar statement of agreement. You may even sometimes hear, "Ça roule ma poule" (literally "that rolls, my chicken").
4. Fais gaffe - Pay attention
In English, a "gaffe" can be a blunder or a faux pas. If you're being careful, you won't mess up or commit a faux pas. It's another way to say "Fais attention" (pay attention).
5. On va bouffer? - Are we going to eat?
The French are famous the world over for their cuisine, so it's not surprising that they have many slang words associated with eating. "La bouffe" could be equated to the casual word "grub" for food in English.
6. Sans déconner / sans déc - You're joking!?
To display incredulousness or disbelief, you might hear a French person say, "Sans dec, c'est pas vrai?" (You can't be serious!?). It's similar to the way we might say in English, "Shut up!" or "No way!"
7. Trop - so / very
The word "trop" is commonly used to mean "too much" or "overly." But you also might use it instead of saying "very", for example, "Il est trop beau" (He is quite handsome) or "J'ai trop soif" (I'm really thirsty). This is slang but it isn't considered rude, so you can use it wherever you like.
8. Je m'en fous - I don't care
If you're apathetic or you don't care about something, you might say "Je m'en fous." It's kind of like saying, "I couldn't care less," and it's definitely not super polite.
9. T'es large - You're good
Literally meaning "You're large," this expression isn't a commentary on someone's physical appearance. It's a casual way of saying "You're fine" or "You're good," for example if you want to reassure someone that they're not running late or that they haven't made a mistake.
10. La douloureuse - The bill in a restaurant
Waiting for the bill to come in a French restaurant can take a very long time. So much so that they might call the bill this word, which literally means, "the painful." As in, "Vous avez demandé la douloureuse?" (Have you asked for the bill?).
11. Ça caille - It's freezing
Ça caille is a slang word for when it's freezing cold outside, probably coming from the French word "cailler" (to coagulate). It has nothing to do with la caille, the French word for "quail."
12. Bobo - Hipster
Even the French have hipsters. "Bobo" comes from shortening the expression bourgeois-bohème, a bourgeois bohemian. It's sort of a contradiction in terms, since a bohemian usually means an artist who lives on the margins of society, while a bourgeois is an elite. Alas, we have them too: if someone lives in a fancy apartment in Brooklyn but works as a part-time photographer and you find yourself wondering how they actually pay rent, congratulations you know a real bobo.
13. Je me casse - I'm getting out of here
This expression is most similar to the English "Let's bounce," but in a slightly more dramatic fashion. Casser means "to break" so it's sort of like saying, "I'm breaking out of here."
14. Tu t'en sors? - Are you good?
"Are you sorting yourself out?" If you're asking this question, you're inquiring into someone's well-being.
15. Au boulot! - Back to work!
Boulot is a more informal way to say travail, or "work." When you're going au boulot, you're getting back to your desk to continue the task at hand.
If you're ready to get back to work learning French, there are plenty of classes on offer at Fluent City. Have you checked out our convenient online group classes yet?