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French expression of the day: Genre

This youthful expression is a must-know if you want to understand French teenagers.

French expression of the day: Genre

Why do I need to know genre?

Young people use it all the time so if you want to hang out with the hip crowd, or just understand what your own teenagers are on about, this one is for you.

What does it mean?

There are two types of genre: the term that means “gender” in English and the slang version, which is slightly more complicated. When used as slang, genre can most often be translated into “like” in English.

When used this way, genre – like “like” – is neither adding any value to the sentence or necessary for the sentence to make sense. But it makes you sound young and hip:

Genre, je n'avais pas de choix – Like, I didn't have any choice.

Il n'avait genre aucun respect pour moi – He had, like, no respect for me.

Any other options?

Another way of using genre is through the expression faire genre, or pretend to do something.

J'ai fais genre de ne pas comprendre – I pretended not to understand.

Elle a fait genre de m'écouter – She pretended to listen to me.

It can also be used as a way of expressing rejection of an idea or a statement. 

Oh, genre! – Oh, as if!

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For members


French Expression of the Day: Une vache à lait

This might sound like the cheese for children, but it actually has nothing to do with dairy products.

French Expression of the Day: Une vache à lait

Why do I need to know une vache à lait ?

Because if someone describes a potential investment opportunity like this, you might want to consider it.

What does it mean?

Une vache à lait – roughly pronounced oon vash ah lay – translates precisely to ‘a cow with milk’ or ‘a dairy cow.’ However, this phrase has little to do with farming, cheese, or milk.

In practice, une vache à lait is almost synonymous with the English term “cash cow” – or something or someone that is a moneymaker or source of profit. 

The phrase in French comes from the middle of the 16th century and evokes an image of a cow who is being milked without protest, allowing for the farmer to profit off of it. It was gradually extended to people and business ventures as a way of talking about profitability. 

Sometimes, this expression can have a negative connotation, particularly if a person is being called a vache à lait. This would be akin to saying that they are being financially exploited without realising it. 

Use it like this

L’achat de Snapchat a été une vache à lait pour Mark Zuckerberg et Facebook. – The purchase of Snapchat was a moneymaker for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

Les parents ont été accusés d’utiliser leur enfant comme une vache à lait en l’inscrivant à des publicités. Ils ont trouvé cette accusation offensante. – The parents were accused of using their child as a cash cow by signing them up for commercials. They found this accusation offensive.