10 Popular French Slang Words for Everyday Life

There is “proper” French language. There is “vulgar” French language (swear words and such.) 

And then, there’s the middle ground: popular language, common everyday slang. 

They’re neither proper nor rude, but they’re the words we actually use the most: French for everyday life!  

 Today I want to show you a few of these most common words.  

Bonjour I’m Géraldine, your French teacher. Welcome to Comme une Française.
Today, like every Tuesday, I’ll help you get better at speaking and understanding everyday French.
C’est parti !

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0) Lesson Summary

1. La bouffe (= food)
2. Le fric (= money)
3. Le boulot (= work)
4. Un mec (= a guy)
5. Se casser (= to leave)
6. Les fringues (= clothes)
7. Une godasse (= a shoe)
8. Une bagnole (= a car)
9. Une baraque (= a house)
10. Un machin (= a thingy)

1) La bouffe

La bouffe” is French slang for “la nourriture,” which means food.

It’s technically slang, but it’s a very popular word in French!

 

In verb form, it becomes bouffer (= manger in correct French = “to eat”.)

 

We don’t use it for fine dining, but rather for meals with no frills; occasions where what matters isn’t the quality of the food, but rather the act of eating, preferably with plenty of people around.

 

 

We also have the slang word une bouffe (= un repas in correct French = a meal.

 

Une bouffe” is typically a meal with friends or people you want to connect with informally. A cliché of French networking is in the sentence:

 

« On s’appelle, on se fait une bouffe ? »

= literally, “We call each other and we make a meal?”

= figuratively, “Let’s get in touch and have a meal some time soon, OK?”

 

 

2) Le fric

Le fric” is popular slang for “l’argent,” money

 

French slang has a lot of different words for “money,” but “fric” is especially ubiquitous. Another common slang synonym is la thune / des thunes.

   

Click here to learn more with my lesson on Colloquial French for Money

 

3) Le boulot

 “Le boulot” is a very common word for “le travail,” or “work” in general. 

 

J’ai beaucoup de boulot. = J’ai beaucoup de travail. = I have a lot of work (to do.)

 

Un boulot also means un travail, or “a job.” Small jobs,” like side-gigs or after-school paid work, are often referred to as les petits boulots, for instance. 

This word is so common and accepted that I don’t know if it’s really slang anymore. It’s not considered highbrow, official vocabulary though, but rather it is part of the French language we speak in our everyday lives.  

On the same level, “bosser” (familiar French) means “travailler,” (correct French), “to work.”  

A popular synonym is le taf / un taf / taffer (= slang for work / a job / to work.Another related slang word is une boîte (= literally “a box” = slang for une entreprise = a company.)

 

4) Un mec

Un mec is everyday French for “some guy,” or “un gars.” The proper word would be un garçon (= a boy), or un homme (= a man.)

 

Mec” is also used for “a boyfriend.” 

 

« Tu savais que Camille, elle a un nouveau mec ? »  

Did you know that Camille has a new boyfriend?” 

 

 

(In this example, I used la répétition / la reprise. Learn more about this bit of everyday French grammar in this lesson: Spoken French Grammar – La Reprise.)

 

The feminine counterpart would simply be une fille, a girl or a daughter. Une meuf (= slang for une petite amie = a girlfriend) is more recent and a bit less proper (more youth slang.) It comes from a type of French slang called “le verlan.” 

 

Michel a une meuf.

= slang for “Michel has a girlfriend.

 

Michel a une fille.

= correct French for “Michel has a daughter.”

 

By the way:

 

Le verlan is a kind of French slang where we create new words by putting the syllables à l’envers (= in the reverse order.) 

 

For example: 

l’envers → l’en-vers → vers-l’en → verlan

 

The word “Verlan” is itself verlan for “à l’envers” ! 

 

Just like “slang” is itself shortened language for “shortened language.”

 

5) Se casser

Literally, in correct French, se casser means “to break oneself.” In everyday French slang, though, se casser means partir (= to leave.)  

 

Other synonyms include se barrer (= literally “to bar oneself”) and se tirer (= literally “to pull oneself / to shoot oneself.”

   

With the hard “r” sounds and the general associations of the words, these verbs sound a bit abrupt, possibly even confrontational (especially in the imperative!).

 

A more subtle and less rude synonym is filer (= literally “to weave” = “to sneak out” / “to leave.”) It often implies that you’d like to stay, but you need to go somewhere else. 

 

For instance: 

« Déjà 17 heures ? Oulah, je file. Au revoir ! »

Is it 5 pm already? Wow, I have to go. Goodbye!” 

 

 

While we would have something like:

« Déjà 17 heures ? Bon, je me casse / je me tire / je me barre. »

“It’s 5 pm already? Well, I’m finally free to go, so I’m leaving.”

 

6) Les fringues

Les fringues” is slang for “les vêtements” (= clothes.) It’s a feminine word, most often used in the plural. 

 

The verb is se fringuer, slang for s’habiller (= to get dressed)

 

As in: 

 

Tu es bien fringuée aujourd’hui !  

“Your clothes are lovely today!” / “You’re well-dressed today!”

 

…Which isn’t actually a compliment. 

   

A synonym is the verb (se) saper. As in: 

 

Je suis désolée chéri mais tu te sapes mal

I’m sorry dear, but you dress badly.

7) Une godasse

Une godasse is popular French for une chaussure (= a shoe.) It makes us think of heavy sneakers or hiking shoes, rather than high heels. It’s not une déesse (= a goddess!)

 

Another common synonym is une pompe / des pompes (= literally pumps) which is used in the expression: 

 

Je suis à côté de mes pompes. 

(= literally, “I’m standing next to my shoes,”)

(= figuratively, “I’m confused, I’m out to lunch.”)

8) Une bagnole

Une bagnole is slang for une voiture (= a car.) 

  

We also very often use une caisse (= literally “a box”.) 

 

For instance:  

 

“Sympa, ta caisse !” 

= literally, “Nice, your box / your car!” 

= figuratively, “That’s a nice car you have.”

9) Une baraque

Une baraque” is popular French for “une maison” (= a house.) 

 

For instance:

 

Il y a dix ans, j’ai acheté une baraque aux Bahamas. 

 

= Ten years ago I bought a house in the Bahamas.

 

10) Un machin

Un machin is ‘something,’ or quelque chose. It might be une chose (= a thing), or un objet (= an object.) This is especially good to use when you don’t remember the name of the object itself. It’s very common in spoken French!

 

It can also replace someone’s name that you’ve forgotten, because they’re not that important. 

 

As in: 


Et tu as pu parler à Machin, là ? 

= And did you get to talk with that other guy, over there? 

 

Machin” is close in meaning to the weird-sounding word le bidule, which is like “a widget.

 

Another more common variation is le truc

 

For instance: 


Tu me passes le truc ? 

= Can you give me that thing?” 

  

Le truc” is also an effect, a trick or a secret ploy to fool people. 

 

And finally, it can also be used to denote a personal preference. For instance: 


Le saut à l’élastique, c’est pas vraiment mon truc

“Bungee jumping isn’t really my thing.”


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Et toi ?

Did you know any of these words before?

Which other French popular words could you add to this list?
Which one will you be using first?

Share your answers in the comments below!

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Allez, salut 🙂

Géraldine

Join the conversation!

  • Coucou !
    On peut utiliser ces mots dessous ? Je les ai trouvés dans un livre.
    la flotte = l’eau
    les flics = les agents de police
    un type = un homme
    une nana = une jeune femme
    un toubib = un médecin
    moche = laid(e)

    • Coucou Brian!

      Oui tout à fait, on peut utiliser ces mots 🙂

      Bonne journée,
      – Arthur, writer for Comme une Française

    • Sorry Miki!

      You’re right, the blog posts / written PDF on these older lessons (this one is from 2017) are lacking, as we started implementing these a bit later. We’ll try to work through our lesson backlog at some point to give full written lessons for all videos on the blog. But I’ll be honest, we’re more focused on creating and sharing new content and courses taylored to our audience, these days.

      But here’s a quick recap of the ten words (not including the bunch of other ones we mention in the video) :

      1. La bouffe (= food)
      2. Le fric (= money)
      3. Le boulot (= work)
      4. Un mec (= a guy)
      5. Se casser (= to leave)
      6. Les fringues (= clothes)
      7. Une godasse (= a shoe)
      8. Une bagnole (= a car)
      9. Une baraque (= a house)
      10. Un machin (= a thingy)

      Have a great day!

      – Arthur, writer for Comme une Française

  • Je ne trouve pas le leçon avec le 10 mots. Si je télécharge le leçon j’aurais 1 page avec quelques linges ???

    • Hi Mette!

      Sorry, you’re right. The older lessons (like this one) don’t have a full written lesson as of yet. We implemented that option on the whole blog, especially for newer lessons as they arrive every week, but our backlog needs filling up, it’s true.

      I did write a summary with the 10 words, above in the comments for this lesson, hope it helps.

      – Arthur, writer for Comme une Française

  • Thanks! I have heard many of these and wondered what they meant. An expression I hear often, which I can translate but which makes no sense to me, is “N’importe quoi.” That’s it. Folks say it when they are watching TV or something and not say anything else. What is that? How and why is it used?

  • Another very useful and fun video, thanks Géraldine!
    There is so much more slang in French than in English. Interestingly, I lived in Normandy for ten years and never heard taf, thune(s) or (se) saper; I wonder if these words are used more in other parts of France? Paris, perhaps?
    French slang also has a subtle social function. I remember going for a meal once with work colleagues and the conversation was rather stiff until one woman, who seemed rather prim and proper, was asked why she kept looking out of the window. Her reply was, “Je zyeute ma caisse” (I’m keeping an eye on my car), which instantly broke the ice; after that, everyone lightened up!
    Allez, je me casse, faut que je bosse un peu maintenant !

    • Absolutely Joe! Even more than French slang itself, its use is what’s matter. 🙂
      It can show that someone wants to sound more relaxed than they seem, or emphasize different feelings, or reveal someone’s age/background.

      That’s why I love teaching the French language as a whole, so much. Not just proper grammar, but the entire rainbow.

  • Salut, Géraldine,
    est-ce que le mot « bagnole » a des mauvaises connotations? Quand je m’en suis servi à l’agence de location à Montpelier, ils m’ont poliment mais fermement corrigé à « voiture ».
    Elliot

    • Bonjour Elliot,

      Oui. 🙂
      Je doute que les loueurs apprécient qu’on appellent leur voiture “bagnole”.
      Mais tu peux dire “J’amène ma bagnole au garage”.

      Dans des situations formelles, choisis plutôt un français formel.
      Mais ne t’inquiète pas, la personne de l’agence a dû être impressionnée que tu connaisses ce mot ! 😉

  • Il y avait quelques annees, j’entendais ‘quoi’ beaucoup apres les phrases. “C’est vraiment toi, quoi?” Peut-etre ca n’est pas aussi souvent utilise… Un autre est ‘dingue’ – crazy/mind-blowing.

    • Bonjour DCster,

      Tout à fait. “Quoi” est encore très utilisé.
      “Dingue” est aussi utilisé ce cette façon.
      Bravo !

    • Quoi is a verbal ‘tic’, like ‘you know’ or ‘like’ in English. Others are “enfin”, “eh bien” (usually sounding more like ‘bain’), “en fait”, “tu vois” … I had one French friend who use to say “C’est vrai que …” at the start of almost every sentence and another who peppered his conversation with “du coup”, neither of which in effect means anything! C’est dingue !

  • Salut Géraldine
    Cet épisode est CUF classique : français de tous les jours, très utile et très amusant.
    PS : merci.

  • J’ai entendu potes souvent. Ce sonts des amis ou des jeunes et flingue (sur le tv) pour un pistolet, n’est ce pas et bien sur les flics? (moi je regarde beaucoup de policiers francais).

    • Bonjour Melanie,

      En effet, flingue = pistolet.

      Ahahah ! Super ! Tu vas apprendre plein d’argot. 🙂 Je te conseille “Braquo” si tu aimes les séries policières françaises.

  • Bon, ben je les connaissais tous sauf une baraque. donc j’ai appris qqch de nouveau là. c’est toujours sympa de regarder tes vidéos-j’apprends toujours qqch de neuf. Merci

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