French word of the day: Nana

If you hear a French person saying that they have a 'sexy nana' that's not quite as weird as it sounds.

French word of the day: Nana

Why do I need to know nana?

For most British people, the word nana is used to describe a grandmother, but in French it has  a very different meaning – as a slang term for girlfriend or just a girl. Very definitely an informal term, but one you will hear frequently from young people chatting, or from watching French TV.

So, what does it mean? 

The word nana means 'young girl', 'woman',  'girlfriend', 'wife', and sometimes 'mistress'. 

For example, you might say: C'est une nana vraiment adorable, tu vas l'adore! – 'she's an adorable girl, you're going to love her!' 

Or Comment t'as rencontre ta nana? – 'How did you meet your girlfriend?' 

The word nana has also been used in famous citations such as the one said by French actress, artist and painter Niki De Saint Phalle (1930- 2002) Nous avons bien le Black Power, alors pourquoi pas le Nana Power? – We have Black Power, why not Woman's Power? 

The word nana is used in a similar way to meuf which is also used in slang to refer to a woman/ girlfriend, and also has an equivalent referring to a man – Mec.  


It is argued that the word nana first started being used around the 19th century in the slang language to mean prostitute, or wife of a pimp. but quickly the word took the meaning and form of 'woman'.

It is also said that the word nana was a shortening of the name Anna and Anne which became popular after Emile Zola's published novel Nana (1880). 

Fore more French words and expressions to make your language more colloquial, check out our word of the day section.



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French Word of the Day: Soixante-huitard

About one in five people of a certain French generation can be described using this term.

French Word of the Day: Soixante-huitard

Why do I need to know soixante-huitard?

Because it references a very important part of French history and culture.

What does it mean?

Soixante-huitard – pronounced swah-sahnt wheat arr – literally means sixty-eighter. While its translation might sound a bit like a sports team (ex. Forty-niners),  this term in French has an important political and social context behind it. 

A soixante-huitard is someone who participated in the famous May 1968 protests in France. With the backdrop of the Prague Spring and the American Civil Rights Movement and anti-war protests, French students and striking workers demanded a more egalitarian world in May 1968. 

This period of civil unrest lasted seven weeks and even forced then-President Charles de Gaulle to temporarily flee to West Germany. The events of this time have had a profound effect on French culture and politics. 

Around 11 million people – 22 percent of the population at the time – was involved in some way or another, and these days, those people are referred to as un soixante-huitard or une soixante-huitarde (for a woman). 

Though the term is typically reserved to refer to those actually involved in the protest movement, it can occasionally be used as a way to describe someone who has held onto the far-left ideas or sentiments from the 1968 movement.

Use it like this

Il a gardé ses convictions d’extrême-gauche longtemps après 1968. C’est un vrai soixante-huitard. – He held onto his far-left beliefs long after 1968. He is a true sixty-eighter. 

Tu pourrais être surpris que ta tante ait une soixante-huitarde. Ses opinions ont certainement changé avec le temps. Tu ne l’aurais jamais deviné ! – You might be surprised that your aunt participated in May 68. Her opinions have really changed with time, you would never have guessed it.