French Expression of the Day: Que dalle!

French people use it all the time and it's one of those snappy expressions that shows you've cracked it when it comes to speaking like a local. Plus its origin is pretty unusual.

French Expression of the Day: Que dalle!
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know que dalle?
You'll hear it all the time and unless you know what it means, it could be very confusing as the expression has nothing to do with the French word dalle meaning 'slab' (as in a slab of stone).
But once you know what que dalle means, you'll find using it very straightforward and it's an easy way to make your spoken French sound native.
What does it mean?
Que dalle is a French noun meaning 'nothing', 'very little' or 'not very much'. You can use it literally to mean 'nothing' or 'none', or in a more figurative way to mean a very small amount of something as in 'pittance' or 'peanuts'.
For example:
Qu'est-ce que tu as fais ce weekend? Que dalle. – 'What did you do this weekend? Nothing.'
Quelles sont tes perspectives de boulot? Que dalle. – 'What are your job prospects? I have none.'
Combien as couté ton repas? Que dalle. – 'How much did your meal cost? Peanuts.'
Where does it come from?
Que dalle has interesting origins. The expression is widely thought to come from the romani (the language spoken by Roma people) word 'dail' meaning nothing at all.
Surprisingly, a few dozen romani words have weaved their way into French slang, but out of them all, que dalle is by far the most commonly used. 
Some more examples:
Ton travail est bien payé? Non, que dalle – 'Is your work well paid? No, it pays very little.'
J'ai compris que dalle à son discours! – 'I didn't understand anything about his speech!'
Elles s'attendaient à un gros changement, mais finalement, il n'y a eu que dalle.  – 'They were expecting a big change, but in the end, nothing happened.'
For more French Expressions and French Words of the Day you can CLICK HERE to see our full list.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.