French Language Blog

French Slang Expressions with the Letter C Posted by on May 6, 2010 in Vocabulary

Un petit coucou à Nel Farias et Héla Zouaghi, ainsi qu’à tous les fans de “Learn French” sur Facebook.

Sans plus de cérémonie (without further ado), we continue the B.A.-BA with la lettre ‘C.’

C comme… (C, as in…)

* Cabot:
The name Cabot in the US evokes the prestige of the so-called blue-blooded “Boston Brahmins”, which include among others the Lowells, the multi-millionaire Forbes family, the famed Emersons, and so on. In France, on the other hand, cabot is used pejoratively as slang for a… dog. So much for the prestige, indeed.
A close expression of the argotique cabot” is sac à puces, which means literally “flea bag.”
Do you know “Pif et Hércule“? In France, they are almost as famous as Astérix and Obélix, or even Tintin.
Between Pif and Hércule, it was always la bagarre (fighting): Pif (the dog) would say to Hércule (the cat): “Sac à  puces !”, and Hercule says back: “Sale cabot !

* Cafeter:
To rat someone out; to “narc”. Usually in school (in “le bahut”.)
The favorite hobby of the teacher’s pet! To be a cafeteur or a cafeteuse means to be a “snitch”.
Cafarder or moucharder (less often used nowadays, but still around) have the same meaning.

* Cafouillage/cafouillis:
A terrible mess. The verb Cafouiller means to make a stupid mistake, to blunder.

* Cageot:
Very mean, it is true, but used nevertheless. Refers in most cases to girls, who are considered to be not too attractive.  A synonym would be un thon (a tuna fish), or un boudin. An antonym of cageot is an attractive girl, like un canon*.
The “thon” term came out most likely in the 80’s. Here’s un moment cult (a classic moment) of French TV, where you can see l’animatrice (the show hostess) asking someone what he means by “des thons“… Americans would say in this case “a dog.”

* Cailler:
To be freezing cold. “Il caille vraiment dehors !” (“It’s really cold out!”)

* Caisse:
See Bagnole*.

* Calmos:
As in “Calmos !“, or “Relaxe, Max !” (like “take it easy, buddy!”)
P.S. Se relaxer is French indeed.

* Camelote:
Junk; trash.

* Canard:
Literally “a duck”. It can mean a newspaper, as in the satirical “Canard Enchaîné.” But it can also mean a “hoax”, a fake news story, a lie. See Bobard*.

* Canon:
The opposite of un cageot*, un thon*. A very attractive girl.

* Casquer:
To cough up, to “shell out”, i.e. to pay. As in“Casquer l’addition” (paying the bill.) See aligner*.

* Casse-bonbons:
A super annoying, pain in the neck, person. Can also be called a casse-pieds. See barbant*
It was also the nickname of the baby “Tommy Pickles”,  from “Les Razmokets“, the French title of “The Rugrats“: My little brother’s favorite cartoon when he was more or less the same age as “baby Tommy”!

* Casse-cou:
Like un cascadeur (a stuntman), or a daredevil.
Since we mentioned “Deux Flics à Miami“, “BCBG” and “Les Razmokets”, here’s a 80’s British hit in France, called “Mission Casse-Cou(the original title is “Dempsey & Makepeace”.)

* Casse-Pieds:
See Casse-bonbons.

* Cervelle:
The brain, as in “se creuser la cervelle” (“to think very hard”, like in a “brainstorming”.)

* Charivari:
The same as in English, meaning loud noise, or a cacophony.
Pour la petite histoire (as a side anecdote), the “Canard Enchaîné” is in many ways a journalistic avatar of the “Charivari“, which was a famous French satirical newspaper that started in the 19th century, and vanished shortly before World War II.

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