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How to Say “Give it Up” in French Slang Posted by on Feb 24, 2013 in Culture, People, Vocabulary

Formal French is of course essential to learn if you want to master le français, but French slang is also  a “must”, especially if you plan to actually go to France.

You also need French slang to understand French movies, songs—and even graffiti, for example!


We’ll focus today on one particular expression that French people often use: LAISSE BÉTON.

But before we do that that, let’s make sure you bookmark all the previous posts, because what you’ll end up saving as a référence personnelle will be a guide aimed to help you overcome the informal French barrier so often met by foreign students, especially when they go to France for the first time and hear French people speak among themselves (“Zut alors, it’s all Greek to them”), or when they watch French movies, or even listen to French songs, as we just said.

* * *

LAISSE BÉTON“: Even if you knew the meaning of each one of these two words separately, it’d be impossible for you to understand what the overall expression means.

Unless you’re already acquainted with the French concept of verlan!

And what is verlan?

Just as we saw in previous posts here on the French Blog, the word verlan” stands for “backslang.”

So, in this case, “béton” -which otherwise would literally mean “concrete” (the construction material, that is)- is in fact a backslang for the verb “tomber“, meaning “to fall” in English.

A funny cover of the famous Renaud song “Laisse béton”, translating most of the lyrics from French Slang into their literal -and at times, “concrete”- significance…

Combining both verbs, laisser (to let) and tomber (to fall) would give us laisser tomber, which means “to let fall“, or to just “drop” something, as in “giving up.”

A friend of yours would tell you: Allez, laisse béton, on s’en va!, meaning “Come on, drop it (or forget it), let’s just go!

So, if after all this, if you still don’t get the meaning of this French slang expression, then, well, just… laisse béton” 🙂


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  1. Pedro Castillo:

    Je vous remercie a votre Blog qui est tres attirant et utile pour moi. Merci.

  2. Janet:

    Merci pour ce message, mais je souhaite que vous devrez inclure les occasionnels français québécois. ‘Verlan’ et ‘joual’ sont très différent.

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