French Phrase of the Day: Bon Sang

The French have a very rich and inventive vocabulary for swearing. But if you need to keep it clean, we have a suggestion for you.

French Phrase of the Day: Bon Sang

Why do I need to know bon sang?

If you find yourself in a slow-moving passport queue at Charles de Gaulle airport, when you finally arrive at the top of the queue only for the official to decide it’s time for lunch and send you to the back of the static international passport line then you should loudly exclaim bon sang!!! 

What does it mean?

Bon sang literally translates as ‘good blood’. This is an old fashioned way to exclaim something similar to ‘good grief!’, ‘good heavens!’ or ‘for heaven’s sake!’. It is often used in situations of frustration and exasperation. 

What are its origins?

Originally, there was the 14th century swear word par le sang (de) Dieu (by the blood (of) God). But this was then considered blasphemous and it evolved into the politically correct distortion palsambleu

17th century French playwright Molière cursed with the phrase par le sang bleu (by blue blood).

This developed into bon sang de bon dieu (good God's blood) and has become abridged over time to simply bon sang.

How is it pronounced?

Bawne sah-ng


Mais ce n’est pas encore fini ces bêtises ? Bon sang ! But isn't this nonsense over yet? Damn it! 

Du nerf, bon sang, du nerf ! Come on, damn it, come on, come on!

Here are some other safe swear words to use in front of your children….

Oh mince – oh darn

Un vieux cornichon – old pickle, to call someone silly.

Ferme ta bouche – close your mouth, a more polite version of ferme ta gueule if someone annoys you.

Mon oeil! – my eye, if you do not believe someone’s story.

For more French Expressions and French Words of the Day you can CLICK HERE to see our full list


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French Expression of the Day: C’est le box

This French expression has little to do with storage devices.

French Expression of the Day: C’est le box

Why do I need to know c’est le box?

Because you might have described your adolescent bedroom this way.

What does it mean?

C’est le box roughly pronounced say luh box – comes from the longer expression c’est le boxon, and does not have to do with a container to store things. In reality, c’est le box means either literally or figuratively that something is a mess or disaster.

It is a synonym for the more commonly used French expression c’est le bordel

Both are slang terms that border on being vulgar, are originally references to brothels, and describe disorder or disarray.

The word boxon first appeared in the early 1800s in the form of bocson, which meant cabaret and later “house of tolerance”. Its origins are disputed, but over the past two centuries it has come to be synonymous with a “place of debauchery” and later messiness and disorder.

You can also say “Quel box!” or “Quel Boxon!” to mean “What a mess!” or “What a disaster!”

If you are looking for a less vulgar way to describe a mess, you could instead say “c’est le bazar”.

Use it like this

C’est quand la dernière fois que tu as nettoyé ta chambre ? C’est le box ici. – When was the last time you cleaned your room? It is a disaster in here.

Je ne suis pas la seule personne qui pense que c’est le boxon dans cette ville en ce moment. – I’m not the only person who thinks this city is a mess right now.