French expression of the day: Tu parles!

If someone retorts "tu parles!" after you've said something, they mean something very different than stating the obvious.

French expression of the day: Tu parles!

Why do I need to know tu parles?

You should know tu parles because you might hear it in response to something you've said.

What does it mean?

Literally tu parles means ‘you’re speaking’, but when used an interjection, tu parles ! is a way of expressing incredulity or disbelief.

The best English translation is perhaps expression ‘no way’, but it can also mean ‘you must be kidding’, 'you're having a laugh', 'yeah right’ and ‘what a load of rubbish’. French people will often use it when they don’t agree with you, or are sceptical abut something you said or perhaps when they are acknowledging your joke or an ironic remark.

Here are some examples:

Les hommes politiques sont tous honnêtes – Politicians are all honest people

Tu parles ! – Yeh right, you're having a laugh!

Ta belle-mère me semble une personne très gentille – Your mother-in-law seems like a really nice person

Tu parles ! Elle me déteste depuis le début – Yeah right! She hated me right from the beginning.

Si on part maintenant je pense qu’on arrivera en temps  – If we leave now I’m sure we will get there on time.

Tu parles! Tu as oublié qu’il y a la grève? – No way! Have you forgotten that there’s a [transport] strike going on?


There is no vous-version of tu parles, so the expression is too colloquial to be used in front of your boss or in formal settings.

You could use vous rigolez or laissez moi rire if you want a formal response to someone you don't agree with.

Other expressions similar to tu parles that don't include a first person pronoun is the more formal mon oeil ('my eye') or the (very) colloquial mon cul ('my ass'). 

Another option is foutaise, which can be translated to 'crap' or 'bullshit'. But, as you see from the translation, you should be a little cautious when using it.

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French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

This French expression is not the kindest, but it will certainly get your point across.

French Word of the Day: Bordéliser

Why do I need to know bordéliser?

Because when things feel chaotic, you might want to use this word.

What does it mean?

Bordéliser roughly pronounced bore-del-ee-zay – comes from the swear word “bordel” which means brothel.

In popular usage, bordel is used to describe a mess or a chaotic environment, and bordéliser turns the bordel into a verb – meaning to make or create disorder, disaster or chaos. 

During periods of unrest in France, you may hear people blame one group for causing the problem by using this expression. Keep in mind that bordéliser is not polite language – the English equivalent might be to “fuck (or screw) something up”.

One popular theory says that the root word bordel comes from medieval French – at the time, sex workers were explicitly not allowed to work near the ports, so they were relegated to wooden huts or small houses – or bordes, in French –  away from the city.

You may also hear another French expression that uses the same root word: “c’est le bordel”. 

This literally translates to “it’s a brothel” but it is used to describe a situation that’s untidy, messy or chaotic, both literally and figuratively as in  ‘what a bloody mess!’ or ‘it’s mayhem!’ or ‘what a disaster!’

Use it like this

Le militant accuse le gouvernement de bordéliser le pays avec sa réforme impopulaire. – The activist accuses the government of “fucking up” the country with its unpopular reform.

Tu as bordélisé l’appartement et notre dynamique de colocation en achetant le singe comme animal de compagnie. Qu’est-ce qui t’a pris ? – You have screwed up the apartment and our roommate dynamic by buying the monkey as a pet. What were you thinking?