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French word of the day: Bouffer

Planning to go hard on the oysters and foie gras this Christmas?

French word of the day: Bouffer

Why do I need to know bouffer?

Because as we're approaching Christmas, you will probably be doing it a lot.

What does it mean?

Bouffer is slang for nourriture (food) or manger (to eat). La bouffe is a very colloquial way of saying food, and j’ai bouffé is an equally colloquial way of saying that you ate something.

Bouffer has kind of a greedy clang to it, and French people often use it to express that they overate:

C’est fou comment on a bouffé chez ma grand-mère ce noël – We stuffed ourselves like crazy at grandma’s this Christmas.

Tu bouffes trop vite, tu vas t’étouffer si tu ne t'arrêtes pas de temps en temps – You’re eating too quickly, you’re going to choke if you don’t stop to chew occasionally.

J’ai craqué ce week-end, je suis allé bouffer un énorme Big Mac – I couldn’t resist, I pigged out this weekend and ate a huge Big Mac

But you can also use it as a noun:

Elle est où la bouffe? J’ai la dalle ! – Where’s the grub? I’m starving!

Do keep in mind that bouffer is so colloquial that it’s bordering on vulgar, so never use this last sentence if you’re, let’s say, visiting your French mother-in-law for a Christmas meal. 

Other options?

Bouffer is also popularly used in the expression se faire bouffer, which best can be translated to ‘be walked all over’. Sport fans often use it to describe a big win or loss, or to show off and play tough before a game.

For example:

On s’est fait bouffer hier pendant le match – We were eaten alive during the game last night.

Vous allez vous faire bouffer sur le terrain ce soir – Your team will be walked all over on the field tonight.

Or, since it's nearly Christmas, here's a phrase you should only say when surrounded by your very close friends:

Je te boufferai comme ton grand-père bouffe une bûche de Noël – I'll eat you alive like your grandfather eats the Christmas cake.

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French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Though this phrase has a close English equivalent, it's just so much more poetic in French

French Expression of the Day: Les grands esprits se rencontrent

Why do I need to know les grands esprits se rencontrent?

Because you might want to use this phrase the next time you and a friend have the same idea for how to spend vacation.

What does it mean?

Les grands esprits se rencontrent – usually pronounced lay grand eh-spreets suh rahn-cahn-truh – literally translates to “the great minds meet each other” or “the great spirits meet each other.” More appropriately, the very poetic phrase in French translates to the English expression “great minds think alike.” 

For the French phrase, it actually finds its origins with Voltaire. In 1760, he wrote a letter to another well-known French writer at the time and included the phrase: “Les beaux esprits se rencontrent” (the beautiful minds meet each other) to emphasise the fact that both expressed the same idea at the same time.

Over time, the phrase switched from ‘beautiful’ minds to ‘great’ minds, but the meaning remains the same. The phrase is usually said ironically in French, and can be used more or less interchangeably with the English version of this expression (which curiously has different origins altogether). However, sadly, the French version does not include the snarky reply: “and fools seldom differ” 

Use it like this

J’avais envie de pizza pour le dîner mais je lui ai demandé ce qu’il voulait quand même et il a dit pizza. Les grands esprits se rencontrent ! – I was wanting pizza for dinner, but I asked him what he wanted anyways, and he said pizza. Great minds think alike!

Nous pensons tous deux que la vue de Paris depuis le Belvédère de Belleville est la meilleure de la ville. Les grands esprits se rencontrent. – We both think that the view of Paris from Belvédère de Belleville is the best of the city. Great minds think alike.