French Slang: Up-To-Date Colloquial French Expressions (Learn French)


Have you ever been told that your French is outdated or old fashioned? If you’re trying to relearn French after several years of not practicing, I’m willing to bet that you want to get back to the level of French you once had, but with modern vocabulary. If that’s you, you’re in the right place!

If you want to keep your French fresh and relevant, it’s important to introduce some French slang to your vocabulary knowledge. In today’s lesson, I’ll introduce you to some modern and up-to-date colloquial expressions that you can use in your French conversations, no matter your age or experience level.

C’est parti !

1. C'est chaud !

In correct, common French, chaud means “warm, hot.

Attention, c’est chaud ! = Careful, it’s hot!
J’ai chaud. = It’s hot in here, I’m feeling too hot.

And yeah, we say “j’ai chaud” and not “je suis chaude“, because in colloquial French, Je suis chaud (masculine) means “I’m motivated.” While “Je suis chaude.(feminine) means “I’m aroused.

Which is an example of :

But C’est chaud. is something else entirely, when applied to something or a situation. In colloquial French, it means: “it’s hard, it’s difficult.” There’s also a meaning of “hardcore / borderline” too. For example:

  • C’est chaud d’apprendre tous les verbes en français. = It’s hard to learn all the French verbs.
  • J’ai un train dans dix minutes, ça va être chaud. = I have a train in ten minutes, it’s going to be difficult to catch it.
  • Le test était chaud, mais je pense que ça va aller. = The test was “hot”, the test was hard, but I think it will be fine.
  • T’as vu ce qu’il a fait ? C’est chaud ! = Did you see what he just did? That’s hardcore!
  • C’est chaud de dire ça, devant tout le monde. = That’s hardcore, that’s borderline acceptable to say that in front of everybody.
  • Bon, Lionel, j’ai pas de problème avec ta vaisselle sale, mais là c’est chaud quand même. = Well, Lionel, usually I don’t have a problems with dirty dishes, but now, that’s becoming too much, I have to say.

2. Kiffer

In colloquial French, especially for Millenials and younger:
Kiffer = aimer (to love,) apprécier (to enjoy)

  • Je kiffe ce groupe. = I like this band.
  • On est là pour kiffer ! = We’re here to have a good time!
  • Je te kiffe. = I like you, I love you even (but with less formality / elegance.)

It comes from an Arab word, le kif, meaning “pleasure, good time.

  • C’est le (gros) kif ! = That’s a (really) enjoyable moment!
  • On kiffe ! = We’re enjoying the moment!

And some variations, such as un kiffeur (= un bon vivant,) an Epicurean, someone who enjoys life.

3. Relou

Relou = annoying = verlan slang for lourd

Le verlan is a special way to create slang words in French, by saying them à l’envers (in reverse.) Verlan is itself verlan for à l’envers.

Click here to learn more:
French Phrases: Using and Understanding Verlan (You Didn’t Learn This In School)

Relou always means “annoying.” As in:

  • Tu peux arrêter ? T’es relou. = Can you stop? You’re annoying. [informal pronunciation : “Tu es” becomes “T’es”]
  • Mardi c’est relou, on peut se voir demain plutôt ? = Tuesday is inconvenient, can we meet tomorrow instead ?
  • Je me suis fait accoster par un relou. = I’ve been propositioned by a creep.

Lourd mostly means “heavy” :
Ton sac est très lourd ! = Your bag is really heavy!
Il fait lourd… = The weather is heavy, there’s pressure, like before a storm.

It can also mean “annoying” though:
Oh, t’es lourd. = Oh, you’re annoying.
Arrête avec tes blagues lourdes. = Stop with the unsubtle, crass jokes.
Arrête avec ta drague lourde. = Stop with the heavy-handed, creepy flirting seduction.

We also use, in colloquial (but a bit old-fashioned) French: lourdingue = annoying, frustrating, tiring, unsubtle, shitty.

4. Poser un lapin 🐰 & planter 🥕

Poser un lapin = “putting a rabbit on there” (literally) = standing someone up
Planter = to plant (un légume = a vegetable) = to stand someone up (colloquial)

Il m’a posée un lapin ! = He stood me up!
Il m’a plantée au dernier moment. = He bailed at the last moment, he left me high and dry.

Planter can have a wide variety of meanings in colloquial French, though.

  • Se planter = to make a mistake.
    • Je me suis planté d’arrêt ! = Oh no, I left at the wrong stop!
  • Rester planté = staying put
    • Aide-moi, ne reste pas planté là ! = Help me, don’t simply stand and watch!
  • Planter quelqu’un (avec un couteau) = stabbing someone
    • Il était en colère et il l’a planté ! = He was angry and stabbed him!
    • We’d rather say: Il l’a planté avec un couteau. Or Il lui a planté un couteau dans le ventre. (= He stabbed him with a knife. / He stabbed a knife in his belly.)

Don’t worry, if you say “Il m’a plantée au dernier moment”, no one will think it’s about stabs.

“Savez-vous planter les choux ?” = Do you know how to plant cabbages?, is a very popular French nursery rhyme.

5. Se faire des films

Faire un film, faire des films = making a movie, making movies

Informal French:
Se faire des films = “making movies for yourself” = to fantasize, to imagine

For instance:

  • Julien se fait des films. = Julien is imagining things.
  • Il ne va pas t’appeler, arrête de te faire des films. = He’s not going to call you, stop imagining things, stop making movies in your head.
  • Oh, personne ne lui en veut, elle se fait des films c’est tout. = Oh, nobody’s holding a grudge against her, she’s just being delusional, that’s all.

We also have:

  • Rêver = to dream
  • Imaginer = to imagine
  • Imaginaire = Imaginary
  • Fantasmer = to fantasize, especially of un fantasme.
  • Un fantasme = a fantasy, especially a sexual fantasy

Don’t mistake it for:

  • La fantaisie = whimsy
  • La fantasy = fantasy as a literary genre, like Lord of the Rings
  • Le merveilleux = wonderful, fantastic + literary genre of fairy tales
  • Fantastique = fantastic, unbelievable
  • Fantasque = erratic, air-headed
  • Un fantôme = a ghost

6. Vachement

Vachement = sounds like “Like a cow” literally = Très, very or Beaucoup, a lot (colloquial)

C’est vachement bien !(informal) = C’est très bien ! C’est super bien ! = That’s very good!
Il y a vachement de monde. (informal) = Il y a beaucoup de monde. = There’s a lot of people.

My grandmother used to hate that word. She said it sounded vulgar and inelegant. She’s not wrong! And you wouldn’t use it in a formal letter. But in everyday spoken French, everybody uses it nonetheless. It’s not a swear word, it’s not a vulgar word. But it’s not the prettiest word in the French language.

In modern colloquial spoken French, we also use often use Trop (= too much) as a synonym of Très (= very). Like: C’est trop bien ! = That’s too good, that’s so good, that’s very good.

Of course, sometimes, you’ll need to use the context to decide if trop means “very” or “too much”. Like:

  • Oh, tu es trop gentille ! (Merci beaucoup !) = Oh, you’re so nice, you’re very nice! Thank you! (→ very)
  • Oh, tu es trop gentille ! (Arrête de te laisser faire !) = Oh, you’re too much of a nice person! Stop being such a pushover! (→ too much)

7. (Se) prendre la tête

Prendre la tête = Taking the head, can mean:

Take the lead, become the leader (correct French)

  • Il a pris la tête de la course. = He took the lead in the race, he’s in first place.
  • Elle a pris la tête de l’entreprise.= She took over the business, she’s now head of the company.

Being annoying, giving a hard time (correct French)

  • Arrête, tu me prends la tête ! = Stop it, you’re bothering me!, like “you’re confronting me and I don’t like it.” Or
  • Il lui a pris la tête toute la soirée. = He’s been bugging her the whole evening, he’s been giving her a hard time.
  • Ce problème me prend la tête. = This problem is annoying, it’s giving me a hard time, it’s killing me (figuratively.)

We also say: Casser les pieds = “breaking the feet” = being annoying

  • Tu me casses les pieds ! = You’re bothering me!
  • C’est très casse-pied. = That’s very annoying.

There are rules to these colloquial expression: it’s NOT “Tu prend sa tête,” / “Je prend ma tête”, it’s really “Tu (lui) prend la tête,” (= You’re annoying her/him) / “Je me prends la tête” (= I’m stressing out.)

Se prendre la tête = “taking your own head” (literally) means “to stress out, to overthink.”

  • Ça fait une heure que je me prends la tête sur ce problème. = I’ve been stressing out on this problem for an hour.
  • Détends-toi, tu te prends trop la tête. = Relax, you’re overworrying.

It’s very rarely about Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris who’s holding his own head in his representations – what experts call un saint céphalophore, “saint who’s holding his own head”.

** Le truc en plus : **
And at the intersection of Casser les pieds and Prendre la tête, we have un casse-tête (= “a headbreaker” literally), which is a riddle, an enigma, or a physical “brain teaser” puzzles. Like these interlocking metal links that you have to break apart – what we call un casse-tête chinois (= a Chinese puzzle.)

That’s also the name of a great 2013 movie with Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, a sequel to “L’Auberge Espagnole.

Click here to learn more:


Keep exploring modern French slang and up-to-date spoken French:

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À tout de suite.
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Join the conversation!

    • Bonjour Madeleine,

      Je ne suis pas sûr. I am not sure what this mean. Do you have an example of a sentence where it is used?


      Comme Une Française Team

  • Hi Geraldine!

    I was just wondering something…
    In English when watching sports, you might hear someone say: “He/She’s hot!” It’s similar to “he/she’s on fire!” but more so when they are at the beginning of a scoring streak or playing well (on fire would be after they’re hot for awhile). After reading that Je suis chaud (masculine) = “I’m motivated,” I was wondering if you all have the same “he/she’s hot” phrase in sports. Do you? Thanks in advance!

    • Bonjour Maggie,

      Not sure we would use this expression in French, but definitely, we can say “il ou elle fait du bruit”, “il ou elle est prêt.e” sur le terrain.

      I hope this helps.

      Belle journée,

      Comme Une Française Team

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