French Word of the Day: abracadabrantesque

Today's word of the day looks as strange as it sounds and while it's not one that's commonly found in dictionaries it will certainly give your French a touch of whimsy. We challenge you to use this French word everyday from now on.

French Word of the Day: abracadabrantesque
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Why do I need to know abracadabrantesque?

Most of the time spent learning a language is dedicated to learning the essentials but this word is all about having some fun with French. 

So, what does it mean?

Abracadabrantesque means 'preposterous', 'lacking credibility', 'ludicrous' and 'unbelievable'. 

It might not surprise you to find out that it's an adaptation of the word 'abracadabra' which means the same in French as it does in English and it is also an extended version of the more common French word abracadabrant which means 'bizarre', 'weird', 'startling', 'confounding' and 'bewildering'. 


The invention of abracadabrantesque has been attributed to French poet Arthur Rimbaud however some sources say it was first seen in a novel called Les Vagabonds by French writer Mario Proth in 1865.

Nevertheless it's former French president Jacques Chirac who is credited with popularising the word after using it in a TV interview in 2000.

Examples of how to use it
Le résultat final est abracadabrantesque. – The final result is preposterous.
Devant la cour, l'accusé a inventé une histoire abracadabrantesque. – The accused made up a ludicrous story in the court.

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French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

This French expression is not the kindest, but it will certainly get your point across.

French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

Why do I need to know bordéliser?

Because when things feel chaotic, you might want to use this word.

What does it mean?

Bordéliser roughly pronounced bore-del-ee-zay – comes from the swear word “bordel” which means brothel.

In popular usage, bordel is used to describe a mess or a chaotic environment, and bordéliser turns the bordel into a verb – meaning to make or create disorder, disaster or chaos. 

During periods of unrest in France, you may hear people blame one group for causing the problem by using this expression. Keep in mind that bordéliser is not polite language – the English equivalent might be to “fuck (or screw) something up”.

One popular theory says that the root word bordel comes from medieval French – at the time, sex workers were explicitly not allowed to work near the ports, so they were relegated to wooden huts or small houses – or bordes, in French –  away from the city.

You may also hear another French expression that uses the same root word: “c’est le bordel”. 

This literally translates to “it’s a brothel” but it is used to describe a situation that’s untidy, messy or chaotic, both literally and figuratively as in  ‘what a bloody mess!’ or ‘it’s mayhem!’ or ‘what a disaster!’

Use it like this

Le militant accuse le gouvernement de bordéliser le pays avec sa réforme impopulaire. – The activist accuses the government of “fucking up” the country with its unpopular reform.

Tu as bordélisé l’appartement et notre dynamique de colocation en achetant le singe comme animal de compagnie. Qu’est-ce qui t’a pris ? – You have screwed up the apartment and our roommate dynamic by buying the monkey as a pet. What were you thinking?