Why do I need to know kif-kif?
This informal phrase will help you out when comparing multiple things that are more or less the same, or when you want to make someone believe that that’s the case.
What does it mean?
Kif-kif means ‘it’s all the same’, ‘it’s equal’, or ‘it makes no difference’. This phrase is usually used in informal scenarios to compare two options that are so similar that they are virtually equal.
For example, Si je prends le métro ou le bus, c’est kif-kif, ça va durer une demi-heure (Whether I take the metro or the bus, it’s all the same, it’s going to take half an hour).
It can also be used to indicate that two parties have contributed equally to something, especially expenses:Tu as payé le dîner ? Non, on a payé kif-kif. (Did you pay for dinner? No, we split the bill).
In this case, the term moite-moite or moitié-moitié (half and half) can also be used.
According to some sources, the expression kif-kif comes from the Arabic expression 'kïf kïf', meaning ‘exactly the same’, a repetition of the word kïf (كيف), meaning ‘how’ in the interrogative and ‘like’ in the affirmative.
French colonial soldiers brought it back to mainland France in the mid-19th century, and it can be found in literature from as early as 1867. So while kif-kif is informal, it is well established in the French language.
How do I use kif-kif?
Here are a few more examples:
Le Ricard ou le pastis 51, c’est kif-kif. – ‘The Ricard or the 51 (two brands of pastis), it’s the same thing.’
J’ai payé les billets et tu as payé le transport, c’est kif-kif. – I payed for the tickets and you payed for transport, we’re even.
There are a number of variations of kif-kif, notably kif-kif bourricot and kif-kif la bourrique, which don’t change the meaning, but do add a little bit of rhetorical pizzaz.
Also similar are bonnet blanc, blanc bonnet and c’est du pareil au même, both of which are used to indicate that two seemingly different options are in fact the same, as in politics.
For example, Que gagnent la gauche ou la droite, c’est du pareil au même! – ‘Whether the Left or the Right wins, it’s all the same!’