French Expression of the Day: Je me casse

The Local France
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French Expression of the Day: Je me casse
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

You may want this French phrase if you have a casual exit planned.


Why do I need to know je me casse?

Because this expression is used all the time by young French people, and in a literal sense it can be a bit misleading.

What does it mean?

Je me casse - roughly pronounced juh muh kass - may use the -ER verb casser (‘to break’), but it actually signifies making an exit, particularly one of the swift variety. It is a way to say "I'm getting out of here" rather than just 'leaving'. 

It is similar to the expression je me barre, or on se barre, which is another casual, somewhat abrupt way of announcing one's departure.

Imagine that you’re in school, suffering through a horrendously boring lecture. Well, if you’re the cool French kid in class, you might say je me casse - ‘I’m out of here’ - and head for the door. This might not land well with the teacher, but it certainly has some dramatic effect.

Or, say you're at a party that you aren't really feeling the vibe of anymore and you want to head off, you could look at your French friend and say on se casse? - let's get out of here?

You should keep in mind that it is quite casual, so telling your French in-laws je me casse after a nice dinner will definitely be perceived as rude.  

Casser can also be used in a more violent way - to tell someone to get the f*** out. It all has to do with tone and context - if your friend is pulling your leg and you respond with casse-toi, it may come off more as 'get out of here'. In contrast, an angry and loud casse-toi really means get the f*** out.

If you are looking for a more gentle and formal way to say "I'm leaving", you might say je m'en vais or alternatively on s'en va (we're leaving).

You'll hear this expression quite a lot though. In fact, it is so popular that it was also the title of Malta's 2021 Eurovision song entry. 


Use it like this

Cette teuf est nulle. On se casse? - This party is lame. Wanna get out of here?

Bon, mon service est terminé et je me casse. Courage pour ce soir! - Welp, my shift is over and I'm out of here. Good luck for tonight!


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Susan 2023/08/03 11:24
I think you’ll find that it was actually Malta’s 2021 Eurovision entry!
John Newton 2023/08/03 11:20
I've looked on YouTube. Je me casse was Malta's 2021 Eurovision song entry. Voilà, sung by Barbara Pravi, was France's entry.

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