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French Slang Posted by on Nov 20, 2020 in Language, Vocabulary

L’argot français et le verlan 

Aujourd’hui on parle de l’argot français et du verlan... today we are talking about French slang and verlan. C’est parti!

Argot, as in any language, is an ever-changing and important part of the French language and culture. The more formal French you learn in school will be perfect for les restaurants, les hôtels, les musées, or for faire du shopping. If you want to really impress your new local friends, though, you’ll have to use some argot and verlan!

C’est quoi exactement ‘le verlan’? What exactly is ‘verlan?’

Verlan is a type of slang – specifically when you invert syllables to create a new word. In fact the word verlan is an example of this. It comes from the French word ‘l’envers‘ or the ‘inverse’. These words are passed down orally and as such they are written as they are pronounced. (Which is why we write verlan and not versl’en). 

The purpose of verlan is to create ‘une langue secrète‘, a secret language. Therefore, new words are always being created, and there are even instances of double verlan, where words are reversed a second time.

‘Cimer les Bleus’ – ‘Thanks Blues’ – photo taken by me in Paris after the French won the World Cup in 2018

Et maintenant quelques exemples d’argot et de verlan, and now some examples of slang and verlan:

  1. Cimer –merci – thanks
  2. Meuf – femme – woman (could be used for ‘chick’ or even ‘girlfriend’)
  3. Ouf, louf – fou, folle – crazy
  4.  Keuf – flic – police (flic is argot for la police)
  5. Céfran – français – French
  6. Tromé – métro – subway
  7. Reuf – frère – brother (or ‘dude’)
  8. Keum – mec – guy (mec is argot for l’homme)
  9. Teuf – fête – party
  10. Kainri – américain – American (only the second part of the word is reversed)

So if you are in France and someone says the following to you, now you’ll have no problem understanding: “Il y a une teuf ce soir avec des keums et des meufs… ça va être louf, mon reuf!”  

  1. Kiffer – aimer – to love (‘to dig’)
  2. Bouffer – manger – to eat
  3. Une clopeune cigarette – a cigarette
  4. Avoir le seum être en colère – to be pissed
  5. Avoir la flemmeêtre paresseux – to be lazy (or ‘to not be in the mood’)
  6. Bosser travailler – to work
  7. Flipper – to flip out (adopted from English!)
  8. Le bouffon – loser (literally ‘jester’)
  9. Choper – to pick up (romantically)
  10. Un flingueun pistolet – a gun
  11. Ça craint – that sucks

A la prochaine, enjoy la bouffe next week while saying cimer!

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About the Author: Bridgette

Just your average Irish-American Italo-Francophone. Client Engagement for Transparent Language.


Comments:

  1. Mick:

    Merci. Très amusant!

  2. Dave Willinger:

    unfortunate grammar mistake in your lead-in, ness-pah.
    Aujourd’hui on parle de l’argot français et (on parle) du verlan.
    But I love the post, have always dug French slang.