• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
French slang shortcuts you'll need to blend in
Photo: Chris Ford/Flickr

French slang shortcuts you'll need to blend in

Oliver Gee · 22 Feb 2016, 17:05

Published: 22 Feb 2016 17:05 GMT+01:00

Shortening words is something so common in English that you might not even realize you do it.
 
Photo, gym, maths, mayo... the list goes on and on (and on even further if you're Australian). 
 
If you want to get technical, the shortened words are called apocopes (pronounced a-pocker-pees - a word that comes from the Greek word for "cutting off").
 
Some of them in French are so normal that even French people might not realize they're using shortened words, like Métro (from Métropolitain).
 
If you're looking to really talk like a French person, add the following words to your vocabulary. But a word of warning, they're mostly informal, so perhaps use them sparingly with your mother-in-law or boss.
 
Comme d'hab
 
Instead of saying comme d'habitude ("as usual"), the French are quite happy to say comme d'hab.
 
D'ac
 
The French word for "ok" or "alright" is d'accord. Or simply d'ac, if you're in a hurry. 
 
D'ac! Photo: Sarah Reid/Flickr
 
Then there's the bons...
 
Bon aprèm
 
Short for bon après-midi (or "good afternoon"), this is a classic way to save a syllable and show you're confident with your French. 
 
Bon week
 
Why bother saying bon weekend (have a nice weekend) when you can say bon week? Ironically, as one reader pointed out, this shortening sounds more like you're wishing someone a good week rather than a weekend... 
 
Bon app
 
No, this isn't what you exclaim when you download a great app for your phone. It's the very common phrase for "bon appétit". If you spend one lunch in France, you'll almost certainly hear this.
 
And of course bon anniv for bon anniversaire (thanks to a reader for this reminder), which you should say to someone on their birthday, if they are under 40 perhaps.
 
A plate of boeuf bourguignon. Photo: ace_alejandre/Flickr
 
Champ
 
Nope, it's not champignon, or champion, or Champs Elysées, champ is short for Champagne of course. 
 
Sympa
 
If something is nice, you can say it's sympa (short for sympatique). Eg: J'habite un quartier sympa (I live in a nice neighbourhood).
 
Beauf
 
If a man is vulgar and stupid, you might call him a beauf. This is a shortening of beau-frère (brother-in-law). Little known fact: The word was coined by an artist at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
 
Petit dej'
 
The French word for breakfast, petit déjeuner, is commonly referred to as petit déj’.
 
Photo: Mary St.Germain-Brown/Flickr
 
Apéro
 
Let's face it, no one actually says apéritif in France. They only say that in the UK, to sound French. (Thanks to a reader for this entry)
 
À tout 
 
Why say the whole mouthful of à tout à l'heure (see you soon) when you can say just the first bit and get away with it?
 
Coloc
 
Got a roommate (colocataire)? Well the French version of what we might call a "roomie" in English is coloc.
 
Expo
 
"Fancy popping to see an "exhi" at the Louvre today?" Nope, in English we can't really shorten "exhibition", but in French exposition easily and regularly becomes expo.
 
Restau
 
Here's another common one - restau for restaurant
 
A pleasant restau. Photo: hotels-paris-rive-gauche/Flickr
 
Clim
 
Turn up the clim, it's too warm in here! Yes, clim is the shortened word for climatisation (air conditioning).
 
Cap
 
If someone is cap of doing something, it means they're "capable". Eg: "T'es pas cap" would be a very slang way of saying "You're not capable of doing this". 
 
Vélo 
 
Here's a little known apocope - the French word for "bike" is a shorter version of vélocipède.
 
Ciné
 
This is the rare double whammy... ciné is the shortened form of cinema - which is actually a shortened version of cinématographe.
 
Story continues below…
 
Photo: Punkroyaltiger/Flickr
 
And our favourite:
 
Degueu
 
A slang word in itself, which should be used with caution, shortens the French word for disgusting (degueulasse) to "degueu". As in "La tête de veau est degueu" (That veal's head is "disgusto").
 
And lastly... here are some new ones.
 
The beautiful thing about languages is that they're always growing. So here are three words that we invented, which we think need to be added to the above list.
 
Bonj'
 
Short for bonjour, pronounced "bondge". Think of all the time you'd save if you cut the French word for hello into just one syllable. 
 
Arro
 
Paris is divided into 20 "districts", which are called "arrondissements" in French. Arrondissements! Four syllables for such a common words. Let's cut the nonsense and call each an arro (pronounced arrow).
 
Charc
 
Fancy a bit of cold, cooked meat? Head down to the charcuterie and pick up some charcuterie. Or, as it should now be known, charc (pronounced shark)
 
A bit of charc? Photo: jan buchholtz/Flickr
 
Disclaimer: We must stress, these last three words do not exist, so only use them if you're aware that you are joining us in a trailblazing language revolution. 
 
 

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Photo: ByeBye Crottoir

No need to watch your step anymore, says this French engineer behind a new app called "Bye Bye Pavement Dog Poo"

Calls in France for English to be ditched as EU language
Photo: AFP

Some in France suggest it's time to end the dominance of English as the EU's working language, now that the UK has voted to leave the union.

Seven tips for selling your house in France
Photo: AFP

After the Brexit referendum there is already talk of British expats in France considering selling up. Here are seven tips put together by an expert.

British businesses in France told to keep calm and carry on
Brits celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday at the British embassy in Paris. Photo: UK in France/Flickr

Brits running their own businesses have been told that despite the Brexit vote, it should be "business as usual".

Paris thieves pilfer luxury watches worth €3 million
Photo: AFP

Another multi-million robbery in the chic heart of Paris.

Price of Paris monthly transport pass to rise
Photo: AFP

Commuting in Paris is set to get pricier.

Opinion - Brexit
Why a Brexit would be a 'windfall' for France
Photo: AFP

A Brexit wouldn't mean the "apocalypse" the doomsdayers are predicting, it would actually be a "tremendous opportunity" for France.

Post Brexit: Paris and London vow to cooperate not compete
Sadiq Khan and Anne Hidalgo vow to work together. Photo: AFP

The mayors of Paris and London have vowed to work together in order to shape the 21st century.

Voters give green light to new airport in western France
Photo: AFP

Will this finally mark the end of years of wrangling and protests?

'We can handle Brexit' insist Hollande and Merkel
Photo: AFP

France and Germany say they are on the same page when it comes to handling the fallout of last week's shock Brexit vote.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
2,726
jobs available