20 Commonly Used French Slang Phrases And Expressions

  • Adrien Renault
    Written byAdrien Renault
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20 Commonly Used French Slang Phrases And Expressions

So, you want to sound more like a native French speaker?

Then one of the things you’ll need to work on is some French slang. 😊

The full range of French slang is barely covered by French courses and classes, so you might think that it’s not important. While that’s a fair assumption, I have to tell you that French slang is more important than you might think.

Before I get into my list of common French slang, I’ve also covered why French slang is important.

Don’t worry if you’re not confident speaking in informal situations with French natives. Chances are, depending on your level, you’ll just need a few more slang terms and a bit of practice to enhance your understanding.

At the very least, you’ll wow your friends with a well-timed French slang expression.

Why is French slang important and when should you use it?

Mastering French slang is another important step toward fluency — it’s important because it will round out your French language learning experience.

Beyond this, if you want to go from a beginner to an expert at understanding French conversations in social contexts, you will need to get familiar with French slang.

Most social situations require a little knowledge of French slang.

Even if you’re simply chatting with a French native speaker, you’ll find that French slang will pop up somewhere in the conversation.

What you’ll be able to infer from conversations between friends will be so much more meaningful when you understand French slang — even with some knowledge of only the more common phrases that you hear used frequently in French-speaking countries.

It should go without saying: when using French slang, though, keep in mind the context you’re using it in.

Though you might get the urge to tell an annoying colleague to casse-toi!, it’s better to reserve your French slang for the right moments.

With the importance of French slang phrases in mind, let’s explore some of the key ones out there.

Have you heard of these?

General French slang terms

First, I’ve covered a small selection of some of the important general French slang terms.

These can appear in conversations with friends where you’re chatting about daily events — or, perhaps, the events of the previous night out.

So, take a look to start immersing yourself in those important dialogues.

Fric (money)

Fric is French slang for ‘money’. Haven’t got a cent and need your friends to pay for your cinema ticket?

Fric is the word you’ll need.

To pronounce it, think of the word as having an ee sound instead of the i.

Usage example:

Je n’ai pas un sou. Tu as du fric? Aller-tu payer mon billet?

I haven't got a cent. Do you have money? Will you pay for my ticket?

Ça craint (it sucks)

Sometimes, things in life just plain suck.

There’s no other way to put it — except to use the French slang phrase ça craint, of course! If you hate your job, the best way to say it in French is to use ça craint.

Your friends will completely understand what you mean.

Usage example:

Ça craint, mais c’est mon travail.

It sucks, but this is my job.

Piger (to understand)

If you want a cool way to say that you totally get your friend’s subtle meaning — you know — if she’s dropping hints that she likes someone, we recommend the French slang word piger.

It means ‘understand’ in English, or ‘to suss out’.

Usage example:

Je commence à piger ce que tu veux dire. Tu l’aimes!

I've started to understand what you mean. You like him!

Bosser (to work)

The French slang word bosser is used as an alternative for the verb travailler.

It means to work, and though we’ve put it in the infinitive form, you can conjugate it for the person you’re describing or the subject of your sentence.

You won’t forget this slang term — it contains the English word ‘boss’ which will help you call the word to mind.

Usage example:

Toute l’equipe veux bosser dessus.

The whole team wants to work on it.

Un petit creux (a bit peckish)

Is your stomach grumbling? Need a snack?

Guess what, there’s even a French slang phrase for moments like these!

Un petit creux translates to English as ‘a bit peckish’.

So, just before lunchtime, when you hear someone’s stomach complaining, you’ll typically hear this phrase.

Usage example:

J’ai un petit creux après une journée de retour du travail.

I'm a little hungry after a long journey home from work.

Laisse tomber (drop it)

Say your friend has been talking non-stop about their obsession with a certain celebrity.

You might need this French slang word to kindly let them know that they should ‘drop it’, or ‘let it go’, which is what laisse tomber translates to in English.

Usage example:

Tu m’as déjà raconté cette histoire. laisse tomber.

You've told me this story before. Drop it.

French slang phrases to describe positive moments

For those positive moments where you want to compliment someone or interject something nice into the conversation, here are the French slang phrases you’ll need. Take a look!

Trop stylé (very stylish)

Looking for the right word to compliment someone’s clothes?

Trop stylé is perfect for moments like these. This French slang phrase means ‘very stylish’.

Whether you’re admiring their hair or their clothes, they’ll instantly get your meaning when you throw this phrase into the conversation.

Usage example:

J’adore tes cheveux. Trop stylé. Tu es allé chez le couffeur?

I love your hair. Very stylish. Did you go to the hairdresser?

C’est top (that’s great)

C’est top is another French slang phrase that you can use to compliment someone or comment on a positive situation.

It means ‘that’s great’ in English, and you would use it in similar contexts to the French slang word chanmé.

Usage example:

Tu es allé en Angleterre por tes vacances d’été? C’est top!

Did you go to England for your holiday in summer? That's great!

Chanmé/e (radical/wicked)

Radical. Rad. Wicked. Awesome — these are all English phrases used to describe how ‘cool’ something is.

The French slang term you can use instead is chanmé or which is a little play on the word méchant, or ‘bad’.

So, by inverting the use of words with negative connotations, you might see why chanmé means ‘wicked’, ‘cool’ or ‘radical’ in English.

Usage example:

Ce film hier soir, c’était chanmé!

That movie last night, it was wicked!

La Vache! (holy cow!/Oh my God!)

What if you’re completely shocked or surprised by someone or something?

What’s the best way to express that in French? La Vache! fits moments like these like a gloved hand. This French slang phrase means ‘holy cow!’, or ‘oh my God!’

It sums up those unexpected moments — both good and bad.

Usage example:

La Vache! C’est stupéfiant. Quand est le marriage?

Holy cow! That's amazing. When is the wedding?

French slang phrases to address friends in social situations

How should you address and greet your best friends in French?

We’ve lined up the common French slang terms for these social situations, just below. We’ve also included the French slang term used when you’re making a toast to someone important.

Keep reading to get it!

Mec (dude/mate)

Here’s a French slang word you can use to address your male friends.

Mec in English means ‘dude’ or ‘man’. You’ll hear it frequently on the streets of France.

Usage example:

Je pense pas… Cette infirmiére t’aime beaucoup, mec.

I think so... This nurse likes you a lot, man.

Nana (chick)

This French slang word is the feminine equivalent of the word mec.

You can use the word nana when you’re addressing your female friends. In English, it means ‘chick’!

Usage example:

Franchement, Sylvia est une nana sympa!

Honestly, Sylvia is a cool chick!

Santé (cheers)

In English, we would use the word ‘cheers’ when making a toast.

In Spanish the word is salud, and in French, we use the word santé. Santé literally means ‘health’ in English. It’s used in France as part of the phrase à ta santé.

Usage example:

Santé. Et joueux anniversaire!

Cheers. And happy birthday!

Ça baigne? (what’s up?)

If you’re in France, chances are you’ve heard of the greeting ça va, and the typical response ça va!

Well, ça baigne is used similarly and in similar contexts to ask your friends how things are going — only it’s slightly, shall we say, cooler?

Usage example:

Ça baigne, Lydia? Ça va?

What's up, Lydia? How's everything going?

French slang for nights out

Here are the two critical French slang phrases you’ll hear young French speakers using frequently on a night out!

Bourré (drunk)

So, your friend is completely drunk.

You need to let your other friend know this, so they can help them get home. Which French slang word do you need?

Yes, it’s bourré.

Usage example:

Il est complètement bourré. Va-t-il rentrer à la maison?

He's completely drunk. Will he get home?

Choper (to pick up)

After an evening out with your friends, if your pick-up lines have worked on the girl or guy you had your eye on, you might just leave with someone special.

The French slang word for this is choper, which also translates to English as ‘to catch’ or ‘nab’.

Usage example:

Je chope une femme la nuit dernière du bar.

I picked up a woman last night from the bar.

Profane French slang phrases

Hopefully, you won’t be in any situation where you’ll need to use the following profane French slang phrases.

But just in case you find yourself in a heated moment, and need a word to express your anger, here are a few you might find useful!

Casse-toi! (p*ss off!)

You’re right if you noticed that we mentioned this French slang phrase earlier in this post.

But, just to add a little context, casse-toi is un gros mot or a swear word in many cases. It depends on the context, though.

It can simply mean ‘go away’, but if someone’s really annoying you, they’ll know what you mean if you use this word.

Usage example:

Arrête de m’embêter. Casse-toi!

Stop annoying me. P*ss off!

Un fils de pute (a son of a b*tch)

Now, some French slang phrases can be a little more profane or disrespectful than others. Un fils de pute is one of them!

This is another gros mot that you’ll hear in violent movies and some songs on YouTube.

Normally the antagonist would use this phrase to insult the hero.

It translates to English as ‘a son of a b*tch’. Avoid saying this one at work!

Usage example:

Fils de pute, donne-moi le code de la porte ou je te tirerai dessus!

Son of a b*tch, give me the code to the door or I'll shoot you!

Une salope (a b*tch)

Continuing this theme of French slang and profane language, this French insult is recognized in many French-speaking countries.

Une salope translates to English as ‘a bitch’. It’s another one that you’ll typically hear in violent movies.

Usage example:

C’est une salope. Elle a volé mon argent et elle parcourt le monde.

She's a b*tch. She stole my money and she is traveling the world.

Je m’en fous (I don’t give a sh*t)

Let’s round off our list of French slang and profanity with this phrase — je m’en fous.

This French slang phrase, in English, means ‘I don’t give a sh*t’.

You might hear it used between friends — if they’re having an argument, or have suddenly had a disagreement.

It’s another one to reserve for the heat of the moment.

Usage example:

Je sais que tu pars. Devinez quoi? Je m’en fous. Pars et ne reviens pas.

I know you are leaving. Guess what? I don't give a sh*t. Leave and don't come back.

Using French slang — keep the context in mind

That’s it for my list of French slang expressions.

Avoid some of these French slang phrases in inappropriate contexts.

You’ll soon sound like a French native and impress your French-speaking friends with some French slang phrases.


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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Icelandic
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