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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. 
 
 

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