44 Local French Slang Expressions You Need to Know

The 44 Top French Slang Expressions from Toulouse and the Southwest

To see these slang terms in action, make sure you look them up on Dana , where you can hear native speakers using the expressions in real contexts.

Dana takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

Now, onto those slang expressions!

1. Escaner

To choke on something, étouffer in standard French.

2. Férias (f.)

These are small town festivals that are very typical of the Southwest, with parades, music, corridas (bullfights) and traditional food and dance. If the idea appeals to you, check out the top five destinations for férias here.

3. Tu m’emboucanes !

This means “you’re getting on my nerves!” and comes from the verb emboucaner. This is more common in Marseilles than anywhere else.

4. Pitchoun/pitchoune (m./f.)

This is a very popular term for un enfant (child), as well as a general term of endearment for all ages.

5. Adieu

Like the Italian ciao, this is used for both greeting people and saying goodbye. It’s from the Occitan adiu, and isn’t as common as some of the other expressions here, but it’s used in parts of the Southwest. An alternative is adiou.

6. Boudu

This is a very light swear word. It’s from the Occitan bon diu, or “good God.”

It gets employed as a meaningless interjection, as in “Boudu que calou aujourd’hui !” (dear heavens, it’s hot today!). The under-75 set also employ the word but by coupling it with a much stronger swear word, which I’m pretty sure my dear, lovely editors will not let me write or literally translate.

7. Espanté

This means amazed, surprised. It’s épaté or bluffé in standard French. You can say “ça m’espante” when something surprises you.

8. Mettre le ouaï

The last word is pronounced like the English “why,” which is probably related to its origin. This expression is a bit tough to explain, but basically it means to get things all crazy and mixed up, to screw around with stuff or to get the action going.

A rowdy group of of young Toulousans in a nightclub might say “on va mettre le ouaï !” when they’re about to go on a bender, hassle some girls or generally get crazy and mix things up a bit.

9. Parigot (m.)

As mentioned above, this is slang for a Parisian (parisien). It’s worth also noting that the implication is that the person in question is kind of a snob. If you consider yourself Parisian and you want to return the insult to someone extra-muros (beyond the walls of Paris), call him a Provincial (provincial).

10. Eh bèh

This is a meaningless interjection from the Occitan e ben (and, well). In standard French you hear et ben and et bien used as filler in the same way.

11. Déjeuner (m.)

If you learned that this means “lunch,” congrats on your standard French knowledge. But in the Southwest (as well as, interestingly, in Belgium, Switzerland and Canada), it means breakfast—which most French call le petit déjeuner.

This confusion probably came to pass because the verb “to eat breakfast” is dejunar in Occitan. My friends from the Southwest have recounted a bit of confusion in meal planning on their first contact with Parisians due to this.

12. Dîner (m.)

This is lunch in the Southwest (and Belgium, Switzerland and Canada), as is the verb manger.

13. Moins

This means “less,” just as in standard French. The wrinkle is that the s is actually pronounced. People from the Southwest tend to pronounce some letters that are silent in standard French, particularly at the ends of words.

14. Déquiller

This verb means to quickly knock something over. It’s faire tomber in standard French. For example: “Il a déquillé la statue !” (He knocked over the statue!) It’s from the Occitan verb desquilhar.

15. Avoir le froid dessus

This expression describes being cold and unable to find a way to get warm. A standard French version would be avoir froid jusqu’aux os (to be chilled to the bones).

16. Empapaouter

To scam, or arnaquer in standard French. The Occitan source verb is empapautar.

This word definitely comes in handy. For example, in my travels Southwest while writing this post, j’ai été empapaouté par la SNCF (I was scammed by the French train company), whose employees are an evil, conniving bunch who managed to sell me a ticket on a train car that didn’t exist, and then acted as though that was my fault.

17. Trop

In the Southwest, trop is used in place of très.

The “ungrammatical” use of trop (too, excessively) before an adjective instead of très (very) is especially popular in the South, though it’s now also being taken up by young people everywhere.

For example, il est trop mignon (he’s too cute) would be il est très mignon in standard (“correct”) French.

18. Faire monter l’aïoli

This means to get things heated up, make someone mad or liven things up. Literally, aïoli is a lovely garlic mayonnaise that’s common in the South.

The term comes from the Provençal alh (garlic) and oli (oil). In standard French you can faire monter la mayonnaise or mettre l’ambiance.

19. Fascaga

This is a pretty vulgar way to tell someone off, from the Occitan fas cagar, which suggests to someone that he should go defecate.

20. Sifaut

This extremely common shortening of s’il faut (if it must be) simply means “maybe” in the Southwest. Sifaut je vais au cinéma ce soir is “maybe I’m going to the movies tonight.” Standard French uses peut-être.

21. Il fait frisquet

This simply means, “it’s a bit chilly.”

22. Tcharer, tchatcher

These verbs are of course not from Occitan, but rather the English “to chat,” and that’s what they mean.

For example: J’ai tcharé pendant des heures avec cette meuf. (I chatted with this gal for hours.) The noun form is tchatche (f.).

23. Il me tarde

This expresses impatience or looking forward to something, like j’ai hâte in standard French or “I can’t wait” in English.

I definitely had heard this in Paris before I ever stepped foot in the Southwest, but an extended roundtable discussion with representatives from both lands confirmed that it’s more Southern than Northern.

24. Poche (f.)

This is a bag, a sack or un sac in standard French.

Like chocolatine, the use of this word is a classic badge of honor. If you use a term other than une poche at the supermarket, you’ll be reflexively corrected. A variant that you may hear is pochon.

25. Pétanque (f.)

This is a summer game popular throughout France but is particularly a classic of the Southwest. It involves throwing baseball-sized balls as close as possible to a smaller ball, and also drinking a lot of pastis (see below).

Here’s a guide to get you up to speed quickly. The name comes from the word petanca in Provençal (which is a version/dialect of Occitan).

26. Pastis (m.)

One more commonly orders this flagship Southwestern drink (an anise liquor, mixed with water) by the brand name, Ricard. It can accompany any sunny summer day activity, as well as those with pétanque involved.

27. Tu roumègues ?

Are you upset with me/complaining to me/grousing?

Roumèguer is similar to the standard French verb râler.

28. Tè

This is used like the standard French tiens in the same sense (well, senselessness) as an interjection.

Place it at the beginning of a sentence when you’re still thinking up what to say.

For example, “tè, je te dis ce que je pense de ça.” (here, let me tell you what I think about that.)

 comes from Occitan, and is not commonly used in place of the more meaningful tiens, as in “tiens ça pour moi(hold onto this for me).

29. Bisquer

To throw a fit/have a tantrum/be angry.

30. Ça pègue

That works, that’s fine. Ça colle is what’s used for this in standard informal French

31. Cague-braille (m.)

Pants that are too big.

32. Se biturer

This verb is used in some other regions as well, and it means “to get drunk.” It’s se bourrer la gueule in standard French. For example, “on va se biturer la gueule !” (we’re going to get wasted!) Not that we’d recommend this as personal catchphrase or anything.

33. Être mal fagoté

This means to be badly dressed. It’s être mal habille in standard French. There’s also the verb se fagoter, which means to dress yourself badly or strangely.

34. Malle (f.)

In the Southwest, this is the trunk of the car (the boot for you Brits). In the North it’s called a coffreMalle in standard French is used to refer to a travel trunk or case.

35. Brave

In standard French this adjective is used for someone who is courageous (as in English) or good and honest. In the Southwest, thanks to Occitan’s influence in the use of the same word, it can describe someone who’s too servile, a doormat.

36. Rocade (f.)

A beltway (UK: ring road) or périphérique in standard French

37. Les drôles (m.)

As a noun in the Southwest this can refer to children (les enfants in standard French). You’ve more likely heard drôle employed as an adjective meaning funny.

In standard French, drôles can also mean weird stories, and drôles de gets employed as an intensifier, as in faire des drôles d’efforts (to make a huge effort).

38. Bouléguer

This verb means to move, stir or mix, like remuer in standard French. The Southwest’s version comes from the Occitan bolegar. Used as a reflexive verb (se bouléguer), this means to get a move on or get going, just like the standard reflexive se remuer.

Boulègue-toi le cul is thus a common way to tell someone to get his rear in gear.

39. Trou gascon 

Literally this translates as the “Gascon hole,” but that doesn’t tell us much, except that we’re indeed situating ourselves in the Southwestern region of Gascony.

The tradition takes some explaining, but it could very well change your life, so bear with me. The trou gascon is a play on the more popularly known trou normand, or the Norman tradition of taking a break in a multiple course meal to have a glass of calvados (apple brandy), which is thought to bore a hole through your stomach contents, paving the way for more gluttony.

The Gascons have taken up the tradition, but with their region’s own celebrated aged brandy, armagnac. There’s even a bit more to it than that, but in essence, you now have a very Southwestern French cultural excuse to drink and pig out. Enjoy.

40. Fadas

Crazy, or fou in standard French

41. Barjo

This is another word for crazy and can also mean strange or stupid. An alternate spelling is barjot.

42. Aller péter

This means to go a great distance, generally too far. For example: Il faut aller péter à l’autre bout de la ville. (It’s necessary to go all the way over to the other side of the city.)

43. Avoir la cagne

If you say j’ai la cagne you’re feeling lazy, or not really up to doing something. It’s just like standard French’s avoir la flemme.

44. Un pec, une pegue

An idiot, taken from the Occitan pec/pèga.


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